[Interview] Alice Nine: “Because now we are a sum of our experience, we could create this kind work. That’s one of our answers.”
Alice Nine has released their new album “Supernova,” adding to the magnificence of their tenth anniversary year. BARKS has conducted another interview with the band following the previous interview accompanying their single “SHINING.” As the conversation progresses, the members reveal many special, behind-the-scenes stories regarding the album “Supernova.” We would like to bring you this interview that we would like all Alice Nine fans to read.
*Drummer Nao was unwell the day of the interview and did not participate.
◆”There are of course many sides of Alice Nine and parts of us that we can’t expose just like that.”
――I listened to the album “Supernova.” It really feels like…eating a half-and-half pizza.
Tora (G): That impression probably isn’t really incorrect. He loves pizza…Saga does.
Saga (B): And I frequently order half-and-half!
Saga: The making of this album was a lot like the making of “GEMINI.” The first half is Alice Nine’s public face. That ends with “shooting star.” From “Exist” onward, it’s like we’ve taken off our clothes. (laughs) The composition of the album is like, “Our bodies actually look like this.”
――So half-and-half is correct?
Saga: That’s why I like half-and-half. “GEMINI” was the same way. There are things that turn out like that. Because no matter what, there is a different way of thinking about songs for an album and songs for a single.
――What do you mean specifically?
Saga: Singles are things that are easy to convey to people. That’s what we view as most important, so inevitably, we select the parts of Alice Nine that are easiest for people to understand, so we extract that as much as we can when we make them. But just like people, there are of course many sides of Alice Nine and parts of us that we can’t expose just like that. If it doesn’t come after we’ve opened the door with our singles, we can’t show that part of ourselves, so they’re in the second half of the album.
Shou (Vo): In short, it’s like the well-dressed version of us and the fully nude version of us? (laughs)
Saga: Yeah. The main producer of the first part of the album was Hiraide. And “KID” in the second half. We have a lot of songs that are made up of just the sound of our band.
――You didn’t do all the songs with Hiraide.
Hiroto (G): He was the engineer on all the songs except for two, but he was involved in the production of a lot of songs on the first half of the album.
――Out of all the songs produced by Hiraide, you positioned “SHINING” as the first track.
Shou: Actually, that song was originally created by Saga to be the first song on the album. But it was so good that we made it into a single track.
――I see. With the songs “SHINING” and “+-” (puramai), from the beginning of the album, it feels like songs taken straight from a live performance.
Saga: That’s because, in the past, I’d often seclude myself in my room and immerse myself in my own world when I created songs. But now it’s different. There are also songs that I created directly after live shows, and because of that, I truly created them as “Alice Nine’s Saga-chan.”
◆ “We cut it all out this time. We cut out things like whether we should include more magnificent songs because it’s an album or whether we should increase the amount of ballad-type songs.”
――Well, Saga-chan? (everyone laughs) Should I call you that from now on?
Saga: No, that’s okay. (laughs wryly) But this time, that feeling was strong. When I’d seclude myself in my room and create songs, they’d become songs that were 100% projections of myself and not an honest depiction of what Alice Nine is. That’s not in itself a bad thing, but I created a lot of songs that made people think, “Is this Alice Nine?” when they listened to them. We started working on this album directly after the tour, with no time to settle down and when I was still thinking only about Alice Nine, so our live sound was still ringing in my ears. A lot of the songs I created were simple songs with just our band sound. That’s especially apparent in “+-.” I was in something like “hand-to-hand combat” mode.
――You mean your mode when you were creating songs?
Saga: Yeah. And this album is somewhat divided. It feels like a two CD set.
――Huh? Really? But it’s only one CD, right?
Saga: The second CD isn’t finished yet. We’d need more time to finish it, so we decided to break it up and make this “Supernova” into a simple, hand-to-hand combat album. We resolved ourselves to that.
――There is definitely something about it that’s easy to listen to.
Saga: Well the length of the album is only about 42 minutes. It’s short.
Hiroto: We didn’t put a long song into the middle of the album like we have in the past. We cut that out. I don’t know when we’ll release the parts we cut out, though.
Saga: I wasn’t really in the mood to create a long, slow ballad like that. And a slow song isn’t something I can force myself to create, so Hiroto wrote the amazing song “from KURAYAMI” (a song on the single “SHINING”). It was like, “Huh? Now, at a time like this?” (laughs) I was like, “You could have waited until we make the next album.”
Hiroto: It’s okay. For the next album, I’ll make even deeper, more profound “KURAYAMI.”
Saga: Yeah. Because this time we made a simple album like “Supernova,” the next one will definitely be the recoil from that. Part of me is eagerly awaiting that.
――If you couldn’t create a ballad, you decided that something straightforward would be okay this time.
Saga: We cut it all out this time. We cut out things like whether we should include more magnificent songs because it’s an album or whether we should increase the amount of ballad-type songs. We decided that this time, we didn’t need them.
Shou: We’re going to be playing this album at live houses, and I think people will see it with their own eyes and feel it, the way that the songs that we thought were necessary will fit the scenery and push forth a feeling of passion and energy. After our performance at Akasaka BLITZ, didn’t you tell us something like, “Even if you have a lot of songs, leaving behind a feeling of positivity is what Alice Nine is?”
◆”Ah, now Saga is making this face like, “Of course there’s more. Don’t think this is the end.” (laughs)”
――Huh? With such a sense of familiarity?
Shou: I also think that that’s the essence of Alice Nine. I think that that stands out in the songs of “Supernova.” So it’s not like it’s packed full of all kinds of things……before we started the interview, I talked with the members and said, “Let’s not talk about this,” but Saga already said it. When we talked about releasing another album after “Supernova,” I was imagining it having a theme of contrast with “Supernova.” Both the songs and the lyrics of “Supernova” have a feeling of a brilliant explosion from nothingness, and we decided that just sticking to that would be easiest for people to understand.
Saga: So for people who have listened to Alice Nine’s previous albums, I think there will be a strong feeling of, “This isn’t everything, right?”
――Yes! I definitely felt that. It’s like, I could eat both sides of the half-and-half pizza and think they’re delicious, but to eat one more of Alice Nine’s pizzas would give me a feeling of supreme pleasure or sense of accomplishment.
Saga: We cut things out because we understood that feeling.
Shou: But, what I want to say is that we don’t have any regrets about this album. This is the form in which we completed it. This is our current message. Alice Nine has been around for ten years, but even now our foundation is positivity. We wanted to express that more strongly and in a more refined manner. It’s because now we are the sum of our experience that we could set aside our core to create this kind of work. That’s one of our answers. But, since I’ve already said this much…ah, now Saga is making this face like, “Of course there’s more. Don’t think this is the end.” (laughs)
Saga: About this album, I think fans will comment, “Isn’t there more?” But I think the point of an album is for us to express who we are as a band at a certain time. So this is the answer from the current Alice Nine. Even if people say, “Why?” we can’t say anything except, “This is how it is now.”
Hiroto: Because it’s our current mode.
Saga: Yeah. It’s like, “Wait. There’s still more. This sense you feel of something missing is also something that we’ve left for you.”
――Now I get it! Could you tell us more about the songs? The third song “SEVEN” and the fourth song “Mobius”, are they from the Ultraman Series? (laughs)
Shou: It was just a coincidence. I only knew up to Ultraman Taro.
Hiroto: Isn’t Taro even older?
Tora: (begins to Google immediately) Taro is 1973.
Shou: Oh, I watched it the rerun of it (laughs).
――What does the title “SEVEN” mean?
Shou: The vision I got from listening to the song was a world in which everything was pitch dark except for the details of things, which were made of a seven-color hologram. We took the name from that.
――Glad I asked. We wouldn’t have ever known if we hadn’t asked.
Tora: I didn’t know either.
Shou: When I don’t try to make it easy to understand, this is what happens. If I were told to write for a single, I would make it easy to understand, but when I write something like this, more often than not, I go into my own world and start writing for my own enjoyment.
――What’s the image of “Mobius”?
Shou: We made this song extremely pop. Although the lyrics portray a very sugary-sweet romance, in the middle, I would negate everything. There’s a lot of wordplay involved.
――When listening through the whole album, “Daybreak” seems to shine through as a piece that’s on a completely different level.
Hiroto: That’s what I thought during the mastering. The song being the first single release since transferring, many new people including the new director put all the hopes of “a new Alice Nine” in to this song.
Shou: Because we had a chance to hear everyone’s thoughts that “Alice Nice Could Go For More”, we were able to create a song like this.
Tora: We didn’t know it while we were making it but when we performed the song live, I was amazed at the power of the song.
――And then the second half begins with “Exist”. The chorus and the lyrics are very powerful.
Shou: The lyrics are so straightforward that it embarrasses me a little. “Mobius” and “SEVEN” have nothing to do with me; it’s like listening to a story. However, this song is about me. “+ -“ is the same, but in the case of this song, Saga’s pure heart going into music has made me more honest. I’m usually not this honest. I’m usually like how it is with “Exist”: Struggling but making an effort. I think the fans know that.
Saga said that he wanted a part akin to that of when a club DJ would transition from song to song when we would play “KID” live.
――The oddball out of the album, “1 Minute Kidding” ~ “KID”, seems to be an unusual song for something written by Tora.
Tora: I had an image in my mind. I began making the song with Jazzin’ Park, whom I was introduced to. What Jazzin’ Park created in the beginning was a straight up EDM tune.
Hiroto: There were no real drums or bass parts.
Tora: There was only a little guitar too. If it were like that, we wouldn’t be able to do it live, so I came up with drum, bass and guitar parts to add to it. In order to suit that, I changed all the melodies, and surprisingly, it all clicked. It turned out to be something that I had wanted to create.
――It’s sounds awesome, I think. Is “1 Minute Kidding” an intro to this song?
Tora: Saga said that he wanted a part akin to that of when a club DJ would transition from song to song when we would play “KID” live. So we wrote that for when we would play it live. On the day of the track down for the album, Saga couldn’t resist any longer and said, “Wouldn’t it be better if we included this?” (laughs)
Saga: When I was being indecisive, Hiroto, the hardcore general, was like “Just put it in there!” (Everyone laughs). And that’s how it went down.
Tora: The transition wasn’t very good, but if we would merge it with “KID”, it would be too long, so we separated the tracks.
Hiroto: By separating them, it created a very good effect for the entire album.
――By the way, do you all go to dance clubs?
Saga: We went in Jakarta (Everyone laughs).
Shou: In Japan, I used to go once in a while.
Saga: We don’t go very often.
――So there’s no one who owns a turn table for DJing.
Shou: Oh, I’ve got one. I can do a little.
◆Alice Nine fanatics would start with “SHINING” and “from KURAYAMI”, and then go to the album “Prelude –resolution-“ and finally “Supernova”. Make a playlist from there.
――Really! I’d live to watch it live then! The album, after “KID”, transitions into “SHADOWPLAY (Supernova Edition)” and then “Kaisen Zenya”, and everything gets really exciting but the album ends there.
Shou: I feel like that is where our show at live music bars would come to an end, so it feels like a natural flow.
Hiroto: Bringing the album home with “Kaisen Zenya” is very dramatic, I think.
――It makes you feel so excited that it gets you craving for more battle.
Saga: Well, when you leave the live music bar, the battle of daily life awaits. You listen to this, and you step outside. That’s where your battle begins. That’s the purpose of “Kaisen Zenya”.
Shou, Tora & Hiroto: Ohhhhh! That’s it!
Saga: I just made that up right now (laughs).
Shou: BARKS is leading us on to revealing so much today (laughs).
Saga: To be honest, this was the only place that the song could fit. For me personally, the album takes us through many fancy restaurants up until this point, so it’s like we suddenly go into a ramen shop with “SHADOWPLAY”. In order for the shop to not feel out of place, we had to bring it at the end.
――I see! There are no sweaty fatsos up until this point in the album.
Shou: They’re all city boys (smiles).
――Then you bring it back home with the last SE “Prelude –resolution-“.
Hiroto: It’s like an invitation to the album’s tour. You can go back to the first track from here, or you can come to our tour. It’s made that way.
――A beautiful world waits at the other side of the ticking clock from the last part of “from KURAYAMI”…
Hiroto: Exactly! For me, there’s the single “SHINING”. On the flip side, there’s “from KURAYAMI”. From there, we go to “Prelude –resolution-“. After that, it connects back to the first song of the album or our tour. That’s the image.
――That it! The real first track of the album is the single “SHINING”.
Hiroto: Well, the first song of the album actually IS “SHINING”.
Shou: Ok, I got it! For Alice Nine fanatics reading this issue of BARKS, they would start with “SHINING” and “from KURAYAMI”, and then go to the album “Prelude –resolution-“ and finally “Supernova”. Make a playlist from there.
◆He only thinks about guitar, to the point where you cannot believe there’s such a person. He shines so brightly with his guitar.
――Got it (smiles). From here on, we’d like to begin the second BARKS project following the Alice Nine 10th Anniversary project in the single “SHINING”. In accord with the title of the album, this time, the question is, “Who is your star!”
Shou: For me, it’s HYDE. The vocalist of the first band that I ever saw live was HYDE. Just like David Sylvian, he is very slender, and I thought that was very beautiful. That image has stuck with me till this day. Also, I’m deeply influenced by HYDE’s lyrics.
Saga: Keizo Nakanishi is someone that I truly admire. As for the other people, even if I respected them, there are things that I would do differently. With Nakanishi, he’s impeccable. I’ve been heavily influenced by his approach to music and that shines through whenever I write melodies.
Hiroto: Star… who would that be… oh! It’s someone very close to us, but Takuto, the guitarist of about tess. We suddenly became very close last year. He only thinks about guitar, to the point where you cannot believe there’s such a person. He shines so brightly with his guitar. I always think I need to learn for him, mindset-wise.
Tora: Everyone is my star! They all shine in their own way.
Everyone: Ohhhhh! (laughs)
credit : barks.jp