Interview with AciD FlavoR

interview - 18.06.2008 22:00

Rock band AciD FlavoR talked to us about their European releases, concert in Brussels, and the upcoming show for Japan Expo in Paris.

In the midst of promoting their second album and preparing for their show in France this July, the four members of rock band AciD FlavoR took some time to answer our questions.

Can you tell us how AciD FlavoR was created?

Ryo: It was during December of 1999 when Tei and I, plus a drummer and guitarist, created the band. However, when we decided the band's name would be AciD FlavoR, the guitarist had already left, which makes it three original members. Then in February 2000, Shigeru joined us as a guitarist, and a vocalist joined also, making it five members. But then the drummer left the band in November 2001, and the vocalist followed suit in February 2003. Around the same time, Taiju joined us as our new drummer and Shigeru switched to being our vocalist, bringing AciD FlavoR to its present line up. I know it's a little complicated, but Tei and Taiju were good friends from before, so that was really lucky for us. It's a bit of an embarrassing anecdote so I'll keep the details to myself (laughs).

Tei: Same here. Basically, we were always a five-part band (four in the very beginning though) but with different members!!

Taiju: I was the last one to join the band. It wasn't really to help out a band lacking members; it was more like being forced and threatened into becoming a member(laughs). Well, I've nothing to regret now so it's all great.

How would you describe your music?

Ryo: I think our music really focuses on the melody. Our pieces include mellow as well as aggressive tracks, and I believe that all should be based on melody that remains in the heart of the listeners. It's by no means the most advanced music, since I've personally been influenced by progressive rock of the 70's, new romantic of the 80's, industrial and grunge rock from the 90's, etc. So I guess we can call our music "new mixture rock resulting from the essence of the past."

Tei: It's refreshing sound with a certain flavor that makes you not want to stop!!

Taiju: I think it is rock that really makes the listeners feel joyful. Not only that, AciD FlavoR is a band that also conveys messages with deep meanings so it's difficult to describe our music with just one phrase.

What are the topics of your lyrics?

Ryo: There's not really just one topic throughout our works. However, whether it's a mellow piece or an aggressive one, I always want to portray a positive message relating to the real world. It's like a ray of light shining through a hole of darkness. I can't write negative messages because I have such an optimistic mind (laughs). But on the other hand, I don't have the desire to write easygoing messages that totally ignore reality. That's what inconsiderate pop singers do. I just honestly write the experiences, emotions, and opinions I have throughout my life with my own words. I guess that's the basic style. But of course it is different when I write songs for games or for other projects. In this case, the lyrics are based to the settings of the material and common views.

Tei: I think I'll leave this question to Ryo.

Taiju: Me too!

Shigeru: Me too!

Is it easy to transmit your message even if the fans do not understand your language?

Ryo: It's not easy, but I believe it can be done. A staff member who manages our activities in Europe once told me something about Round & Round, one of our ballad numbers from our first album. She doesn't speak or understand much Japanese yet she could point to the sentiment of the song and said, "This is a sad song, isn't it." At that moment I realized that there is something more than just words, and that things can be transmitted through means other than language.

Tei: Actually, I think it is difficult. Moreover, there are many meanings you can derive from Ryo's lyrics, which I think is an interesting factor of our music. However, Japanese is a deep, unique language; simply translating it to another language is not enough. So unfortunately I cannot say it is easy to fully understand our message. Although, I'd be delighted if our fans could experience and understand more of the Japanese language through our music. As musicians ourselves, we have the duty of perform according to the lyrics so it would be our greatest achievement if our listeners could catch the nuances of the lyrics through our musical expressions.

Taiju: I think it is hard to transmit everything, but as the first step to do so, I want to express our music and do live performances in a way that is easy for our fans to understand.

Shigeru: If the language itself can't be transmitted, I think it is difficult to transmit what we want to say and convey. But when we were in Belgium the last time, seeing the reaction of our audience, I really came to feel that language doesn't matter when you strongly want your music to be enjoyed by others. Although words cannot be completely transmitted, feelings can be.

Your two albums will soon be released in Europe. Can you tell us something about that?

Ryo: Our first album SpeeD-BALL is a collection of the songs we performed in our hometown ever since the creation of the band. So it's like a greatest hit album of our indie era. Since the amount of time we have to perform in gigs is relatively short, most of the tracks have energetic arrangements. The lyrics are not so complicated. Some of them were written when I was a teenager so in a way it's "chalking it up to the rashness of youth" (laughs). Many of them are about dreams, love... basically the common things everyone once went through in their lives.

Regarding our second album Next Story, we decided to distance ourselves further from pop music and head toward the concept of "including pieces with outstanding melody." Since becoming major, we haven't performed as many gigs compared to when we were an amateur band so it was the best timing to drop the idea of "music for making conversation with the live audience". It took a year to produce this album, and I totally think it was worth it. There are great songs in it. The views in the lyrics are a bit broader than the last album's. The themes also include universal concepts, but still most of them are about ourselves. We signed a contract with a major record label in Japan, achieving our debut in the music world. But through this accomplishment, there are things that change and don't change. There are times when we find pursuing dreams very tough and when we have to break up with our loved ones. These various emotions are described in the lyrics.

Performance-wise, we included the grand piano in the arrangement and incorporated new recording methods. So I think this album shows our flexibility in experimenting with different techniques.

Tei: I think SpeeD-BALL is an inspiring work. While recording this album, I'd been changing the bass line from time to time on the spot. Then I would listen to it and keep the ones I thought would sound best for the listeners. Since I would suddenly rearrange the bass line without telling anyone, I'm sure at least one of the members was thinking, "Tei! What are you doing?!" (laughs) Well, that's me; doing random things without telling (laughs again). Still, rearranging was in fact what I wanted to do for this album. These songs have been AciD FlavoR's treasures for a long time, so we really wanted to make them perfect. I think the quality of this album really satisfied us.

Regarding Next Story, I had an impression that it had a different approach from SpeeD-BALL. There is a stronger image and a stronger message in every number. As for my part as the bassist, I put effort into challenging new styles. For example, composing heavier phrases for songs with a relatively dark theme and more dynamic phrases for those with cheerful themes. I personally wanted to arrange the album in this way, by setting a different style for each track.

Also, I had been discussing a lot with Taiju about rhythm while arranging my part. Both of us being the rhythm section of the band, although we play separate instruments, we still need to unify. So during recording, we were particularly careful about texture and dynamics. Personally I think I've was able to express the unique sound of each song quite well.

Taiju: SpeeD-BALL, like the title indicates, mostly consists of songs with speed. It's an album for listeners who just want to appreciate and have fun with the beat. On the other hand, Next Story includes deeper emotions with slower tempos, and the range of musical variety is relatively broader. It's up to the listeners to decide which of the albums is better, but I'd be very happy if they were to choose both.

Are you already working on your next songs?

Ryo: We're now in the middle of promoting our second album. Meanwhile, I am always writing and creating new songs. First, I hope for our European "freaks" to listen to our first and second albums and really appreciate them. For the next title, I am thinking of adding some aggressive, loud and heavy sounds. Of course, we'll develop our unique melodies and progressive arrangements even more.

Tei: It's a secret! (laughs) Well, we always have something going on so I'd be glad if everyone could simply look forward to our upcoming events.

Taiju: We still haven't decided on our next release, but we're making new songs so please look forward to them.

You composed some songs for video games; are you yourself video game players? Did you see the demonstrations of the games before composing?

Ryo: I love games! When I was a child, I almost never played any games. I don't know if it's because of that, but now I just can't stop once I start (laughs). I love role playing games as well as simulation games, but I especially enjoy car racing games. As for the pieces I compose for video games, after a detailed discussion with the producer and others in charge of the game, I prepare a demo and present it to the members. Then we use that as the foundation and arrange it together. This is basically how we do it.

If the game was created based on an original work such as a novel, I would have to read it carefully and really look into the materials so that I could grasp the settings and views of the game. After that I try to reflect the spirit of the game in the lyrics and melody. I realize the work load is heavier than normal, but the fulfillment I feel when the project is completed is just indescribable (laughs).

Tei: Sure I love games! When I take part in composing games songs, I plan out the bass line in accordance with the images of the game and Ryo's demo. Of course I read the materials properly as well to grasp the essence of the matter and spice it up, and that's how I complete the bass line.

Taiju: I enjoy games a lot too. Lately, I don't play much, but I often played Street Fighter II in the past. I believe the look of the work is very important, so when there's a demonstration, it definitely helps us to understand the game's content and provides us with ideas for the song's arrangement.

Shigeru: As the vocalist, not only do I sing the song, but I also review the game materials and try to make them work in my imagination, using that in my performance.

How did your concert in Belgium occur? What did you feel? Do the fans react differently from those in Japan?

Ryo: It was such a wonderful time. All the staff members were sincere and very kind; they were willing to hear us out even though we couldn't speak French. It was our first time for everything so we were quite anxious about things, but they were always there to support us. Plus, the other bands that also performed in Animansion were all great people. Our "freaks" in Belgium were more lively than our Japanese "freaks." Their responses were so clear and welcoming so I had so much fun. Their cheerful voices were so powerful that they drowned out the sound from our monitor speakers. We didn't have any of our CDs released in Europe nor did we publish our lyrics anywhere, yet there were people in the audience who actually sang the songs with us. I felt really loved. I was also surprised when someone called me "Ryo-sama" (laughs). Until then, I didn't have any particular impression of the Belgian country, but now Belgium has become a place where I can meet our loving "freaks."

Tei: The reactions of the fans were different from in Japan, but I really appreciated it. I had a great time. While on stage, I was thinking, "Wow! Everyone's so excited and having fun!" There's not much of this in Japan so I enjoyed the concert a lot. I got myself really psyched seeing all the joyful expressions in the audience!

Taiju: No matter where we are, we try hard to entertain our audience. However, the expressions on our Belgian fans were much more straightforward than our Japanese fans; their joyous actions really transmit their feelings to us and that lets me perform happily.

Shigeru: Just the fact that everyone enjoyed our concert made me very happy. I learned some phrases in French to say at the concert, and it was a relief that the audience understood what I was saying. It was tough memorizing them and I worked really hard introducing myself in French you know! (laughs) Also, I was surprised that quite a lot of people in the audience knew how to speak some Japanese.

Did you have time to see a lot of Brussels? What did you find enjoyable or surprising?

Ryo: We were busy with the concert during our two days in Brussels so unfortunately we didn't have the time to go sightseeing. But I did get a good look at the landscape while we were travelling by car. There were trolley cars, beautiful trees lining the sidewalks; I really thought the city had a gentle, nostalgic atmosphere. I remember the beautiful night when orange lights were shining.

Tei: We didn't have much time, so we couldn't go sightseeing. I actually wanted to see more of Brussels. But while we were heading there, we got to see what it was like around us and every scene was of course very different from Japan. I was fascinated by the beautiful landscape. I still think about how nice it would be to just cycle around and see the city.

Taiju: Although we couldn't look around Brussels, we had a chance to visit Bruges. I was overwhelmed by the architecture of the Holy Savior Cathedral, and I had the most delicious waffles which you can't get in Japan.

Shigeru: We only looked around the city a bit, but every aspect is so different from Japan. There are many tall buildings in Japan so the sky is often hidden. But the sky in Brussels is just so wide and spacious. There was also a lot of nature and many pretty girls! Brussels was really a wonderful place.

What do you feel about your visit to France for Japan Expo?

Ryo: When I heard the news about Japan Expo, I was in a hotel room during my day off in Osaka, and I just screamed! (laughs) The band Dio, who are friends of ours, performed in Japan Expo last year, and I heard it was an amazing event so I've always wanted to take part in it. I never thought it would actually happen this fast. X JAPAN will also be performing this year; to be in the same event as them is really an unbelievable experience. I really want to thank the staff who made an effort to give us this huge opportunity. I'll give the best possible concert and won't betray the endeavors of our staff and the expectations of our European "freaks"!

Tei: To be part of this major event is really an honor. Not only that, but we got the chance to perform in Europe again!

Taiju: I was really excited! I already feel lucky to have been able to perform overseas, but to take part of such a big event is really an honorable experience.

Shigeru: Just to perform a live abroad already satisfies me, but to be in a greater event with the word "Japan" in its title makes me proud and gives me the strong feeling that I'm representing my country so I must do my best.

To finish up, can you give a message to your fans?

Ryo: Thank you so much for your love. We'll have a wonderful concert ready for you in July so I hope you're looking forward to it. For people who can't make it to Japan Expo, I hope you'll listen to our albums and look forward to our next arrival. Like Dio, we'll try our very best to someday have a European tour so we hope for your support.

Tei: I'm already so excited to see you all again in July. We'll definitely make your day a terrific one. Hope you can come to feel the sound of my bass!

Taiju: First of all, thank you so much for being our fans! We'll never fail to meet your expectations so let's fully enjoy being together!

Shigeru: Whenever you have the chance to visit Japan, do come when we have a live there. I'd be happy to meet you in Japan too!

Many thanks to AciD FlavoR for taking the time to answer our questions.
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