Interview with Hana Shounen Baddies

interview - 04.24.2013 20:01

Baddies members discuss their recent single, Banana while reflecting on the past when in Billy.

Baddies (Hana Shounen Baddies) have been busy bees! The five released Banana on March 6th and in just a few days, the tour final of Baddies' current spring tour Tanoshii Live that is in celebration of four years of hard work and dedication will be held. Surrounding the release of Banana, JaME chatted with the five about Banana and its inspiration from 90s punk.

Can you introduce yourselves, followed by an interesting or unknown fact about each member?

Baku: Minemura writes lyrics and composes music, and he seems like a serious man as a leader but he is really the craziest.
Minemura: Takuma looks cool, but his character is humorous.
Takuma: Tsubuku looks cute, but he plays such powerful performances beyond our imagination that he is often injured after lives.
Tsubuku: Hiroshi seems like he’s thinking nothing but he is a genius when it comes to ideas and his imagination.
Hiroshi: Baku plays the guitar, drums, bass, and is a vocalist. He’s the type who is easily moved to tears.

Since Banana ”bloomed” on March 6th, can you tell us a bit about the new single? What kind of crazy track is Banana?

Baku: In a completely punk way, bananas were flying in the live venue. (Note: Baku refers to the members throwing plush banana toys out to the crowd, during Baddies' lives throughout March and into April.)
Minemura: Banana is a very straightforward, powerful song that pays homage to 90’s punk rock.
Takuma: It’s a hot song and has many punky phrases.
Tsubuku: It’s a song in which we give meanings to meaningless words.
Hiroshi: Banana has characteristics of grooving punk sounds and impressive melodies.

The B-side/coupling tracks on Banana, Slim Smart Slender (Furyouhinshu Edit) and Fighting Boys & Fighting Girls (Furyouhinshu Edit) are originally Billy songs. Why did you decide to re-record both tracks as Baddies? How different do these “self cover” versions sound compared to the original Billy versions?

Baku: I’ve always liked Fighting Boys & Fighting Girls.
Minemura: Slim Smart Slender is still popular in our lives now, and Fighting Boys & Fighting Girls really matches a punk concept. We arranged both songs to be edged with guitar sounds.
Takuma: Because they were the songs with lyrics and music that matched the punk concept most. They display more elements of rock and are livelier than the original song.
Tsubuku: When we thought to release Banana, these two songs were proposed, and we chose them because we can expect both songs to make a high in our lives. I think they have a rougher and heavier rock tune than before.
Hiroshi: Both songs have good meaning. Now, they are expressed in a rawer and sharper way with a better meaning. And we’ve had many requests to play Slim Smart Slender at our lives.

What is the overall concept for Banana? Why did you specifically pick an everyday item like a banana as the theme for this release? Was it just because it started with the letter ‘b’?

Minemura: The general concept is “punk.” And about the lyrics, bananas used to be expensive in Japan, but now we can get them easily. We replaced "banana" with "love," and expressed human emotions such as cherishing what we once had and loved.

The cover art of Banana doesn't feature bananas but instead, apples and oranges across the two types. Why did you choose this artwork instead of bananas only?

Minemura: It’s a wacky joke. We want to give CD buyers some trouble.

Related to Banana, why has Baddies blossomed with a classic punk image? Hiroshi’s green mohawk and Baku’s thick eyeliner—how does this new image match with everyday items like bananas?

Baku: It’s a punk tune, so I wanted to be very antisocial.
Minemura: At the end of producing our previous album, Bible, we talked a lot about making punk sounds next time. Bible had a lot of melodious pop tunes in it, so making punk sounds for Banana was our reaction to that.
Hiroshi: Personally it’s the first time for me to try a punk genre like in Banana, so I dared to do that appearance!

We were able to watch the streamed version of your recent “Getsuyo wa Kidarui 0.8” broadcast where a longer version of Banana was streamed. Why did you all decide to dress up in different costumes like Baku as Nobita from "Doraemon," Hiroshi as a cute ninja and Tsubuku as a housewife?

Baku: I played a boy who is the partner of the main actor, Hiroshi.
Tsubuku: I did it when I thought about “who is the housewife among them?” I enjoyed cosplaying.
Hiroshi: We made a story PV, where the main actor is a ninja, so I played the ninja—the main part—this time. In the story, Baku and I are friends.

What did you all have to do in preparation for filming Banana? How many bananas did you have to eat during the filming? Would you really do morning exercises with bananas?

Baku: I tried to find a costume close to the image of Nobita and I ate so many bananas.
Minemura: I looked for my costume and tried to be an old man. As I put on the costume, it fit me unexpectedly. I don’t do the exercises.
Takuma: I prepared a costume for being a father. I don’t remember exactly how many bananas I ate during the shooting, but I ate a lot.
Tsubuku: I went to Sugamo to buy a housewife costume and I was embarrassed to try on the costume in the store. And, I guess I didn’t eat bananas so much.
Hiroshi: I prepared a ninja costume. I did cover my mohawk hair at first, but I thought a ninja with a mohawk was interesting, so I did that kind of style. I ate about 10 bananas though I didn’t do exercises!

How far in advance do you work on new songs? How long does it take to create a Baddies track, starting from scratch until the track has been mastered?

Minemura: Once we decide the concept, we can make a demo in about three days. We take about one week for recording and mastering to make a single.

Baddies is celebrating its fourth anniversary since formation. Is it exciting to have come this far in just four years? Were there many challenges along the way?

Baku: We did a lot.
Minemura: It’s been four years full of excitement and challenges. Takuma: I think what we are now is because we have been challenged all the time. And we’ll do that from now on.
Tsubuku: Up until now, I think we’ve had some challenges. I want to do more exciting things.
Hiroshi: Yes, we’ve have been challenged a lot, so our four years were full of stimulations as I look back now.

Though it’s been awhile since then, why was it decided to end Billy and to reform as Baddies?

Baku: Including our management, it's because Billy had doubts taking that course of action.
Minemura: It didn’t fit if we played songs like Baddies as we put on Billy’s appearance.
Takuma: We thought we could enjoy music honestly after we turned everything to be zero.
Tsubuku: It might be our feelings but we wanted to reset.
Hiroshi: Our music was changing at the later half of Billy's existence—the mood was close to present Baddies—so we thought it was good to restart.

Why was it decided to incorporate and relate several of Baddies' songs to flowers? Did you have to research thoroughly to choose the right meaning of a given flower, and match it to the song?

Minemura: Mostly it’s my instincts. While I write lyrics, sometimes I examine flowers and their languages matching to the lyrics.

And in the same way, why is “~man” incorporated into the song titles and themes within songs? It’s understandable not to use “otoko” but why not “shounen” as it’s in your name?

Minemura: It’s because it sounds interesting. There’s no special meaning.

Do you each remember the first concert Baddies performed in May 2009? What kind of performance was it, compared to the concerts now?

Baku: I remember it. It was our new start, so I wanted to go to smash.
Minemura: I remember it, too. We were nervous and poor at playing at that time. Now we perform much better than back then.
Takuma: I remember. Anyway, there wasn’t enough for our play and stage performance as compared to now.
Tsubuku: Of course, I remember! We had some trouble with our instruments and materials, but we were happy to be able to do our live.
Hiroshi: I remember! I was wound up like how I played in my first live with a band, and tensed up during our playing and staging.

What were the reasons that Baddies established Badeggbox and released Baddies’ work there rather than signing to a different label?

Minemura: It’s because we can be free. There is nothing more than the freedom. And we have strange ideas all the time, so it’s annoying to explain and persuade the staff of a label.

the Sherry joined Badeggbox in mid-November 2012 and have already released their first single, Dreamers. How did you make the transition from being your own distributor of your releases on Badeggbox, to housing additional artists?

Minemura: The drummer, Haruka, happened to be my junior, and when I saw their live image last summer, the vocal and melodies were so good, and I felt their potential even though the Sherry were still raw. We didn’t have a plan to welcome other artists, but I thought they were interesting.

Might Baddies plan to sign additional artists to Badeggbox? Which genres might you focus on scouting artists from?

Minemura: I don’t dare to add, but we may if there are bands which play interesting things and hope to dream together. I don’t care about their genre, but I like bands that are serious about music.

Though Baddies’ foreign fanbase is small, would you consider touring overseas in Europe or the US? If so, where would you like to go?

Baku: Of course. America and London first, as I want to be challenged in the sacred place of rock.
Minemura: I definitely want to go. I guess we could be received in Asian countries.
Takuma: I absolutely want to go! Especially to many European countries.
Tsubuku: I want to be challenged in various countries where we could be accepted.
Hiroshi: We have never done lives overseas, so I want to go. Like … Brazil.

For new listeners who haven’t become ‘blossoms’ yet, which of Baddies' songs would you recommend?

Baku: Banana.
Minemura: Bible.
Akuma: Banana.
Tsubuku: Hmm, maybe Bible!
Hiroshi: When you listen to Bible, I think Baddies are more easily understood. And, you can go back from then.

Would going major be an option for Baddies? Why or why not?

Baku: If we could meet good partners.
Minemura: If we could concentrate on playing music and what we want to do. And if we weren’t stressed.
Takuma: We would be if we could be free as we are now.
Tsubuku: If we could do our favorite music like now.
Hiroshi: If it would bring us some advantage.

What will you do when you run out of words beginning with the letter "b" to name Baddies’ releases?

Baku: I’ll use words that I like.
Minemura: I guess I’ll make use of flower names more.
Takuma: Maybe, the names of objects around us.
Tsubuku: I guess I’ll search for interesting words.
Hiroshi: I’ll match the songs to a title then.

If you each weren’t in a band, what would you be doing?

Baku: Well, I drink alcohol, so for now…
Minemura: Hmm … I’d be a doctor, succeeding my father.
Takuma: A cook.
Tsubuku: I’d probably be a teacher at a school.
Hiroshi: I would work locally.

What songs are you really into at the moment, that are on your iPod or MP3 player?

Baku: Dream Come True and the like …
Minemura: Mr.Children
Takuma: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Tsubuku: I have more than 10,000 songs of various artists.
Hiroshi: Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra

What are your plans for later this year, and for the future? Will there be a new album soon with another unexpected image change?

Minemura: We’ll be releasing Boogie Woogie in July. Maybe in autumn, there will be another single? We’ll make a new album slowly and firmly. And we would change our image depending on how we feel.

Please give a message to our readers.

Baku: We are quite different from other visual kei bands, so you could be interested in us. Please listen to our music.
Minemura: We play cool rock, taking in various traditional rock in the world. I want everyone all over the world to listen to our music more and more.
Takuma: We don’t limit generations and countries, and make music that you all in the world could sympathize with, so please reach for us!
Tsubuku: I want to get beyond the country’s borders. I want to enjoy music with more people together, not only in Japan.
Hiroshi: We play a broad range of music so I’m sure you can find your favorite songs. Please listen to our music! I want to bring our music to many people through our lives. Thank you very much.

JaME would like to thank Baddies and their management for this interview, and Non-Non for assisting with translation.
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