Interview with THE MICRO HEAD 4N'S

interview - 02.13.2018 19:01

The five members of THE MICRO HEAD 4N'S look back on 2017 with JaME.

Visual rock band THE MICRO HEAD 4N'S faced a very busy but also exciting year in 2017. Next to various live shows, the band released their third full album Hyakuoku no mirai to tatta hitotsu no ima -INFINITE∞FUTURE- in June, their sixth single Jougen no tsuki no Orchestra -Stella Note Magic- in November and joined European label Gan-Shin Records towards the end of the year. In this interview, THE MICRO HEAD 4N'S look back on 2017 together with JaME.

Hello again. More than a year has gone by since our last mail interview with you in July 2016. Is there any noteworthy experience from then till now you’d like to share with us?

Nimo: Since 2017, we’ve been able to work with Gan-Shin and we’ve slowly been able to edge into the overseas industry.
kazuya: In the summer, Nimo was ill so we had a lot of misgivings about the tour final, but thanks to many different people we were able to miraculously finish it. That gave us a real sense of overcoming something major as a band. We also learned about how important it is to truly believe in ourselves.
SHUN.: We released the single Jougen no tsuki no Orchestra, and I think that really added an extra layer of depth to us as a band.
ZERO: We finished our first album with our current members, and we really became able to show off our worldview as a band during our lives. Of course, the past is still very important to us, but we’re really happy to have this precious present that we’ve been able to create along with our fans from here on out.
TSUKASA: In the summer, we played our first ever THE MICRO HEAD 4N’S live in my hometown, and that was something that left a deep impression on me.

In 2016, THE MICRO HEAD 4N'S reached its fifth anniversary. kazuya, back then you told us that you wished to convey an image of THE MICRO HEAD 4N'S with the anniversary tour that connected the past, present and future and the individual character of each band member. Were you able to achieve these aims? And if yes, in what way?

kazuya: We achieved the connection of past, present and future in the theme of our mini-album, which was Hoshizora ni kakeru koe (“The voice that calls out to the starry sky”). On that release, we had songs that were from before Nimo joined us, as well as new songs that showed just who we really are now. During the tour, it wasn’t just a matter of ordering the songs, but we also had instrumentals and drum solos that showed the character of every member, so it was a really important challenge to show what THE MICRO HEAD 4N’S is going to be like from now on.

In June 2017, you released your third full album Hyakuoku no mirai to tatta hitotsu no ima -INFINITE∞FUTURE-. The look of the cover artwork, the style of the music video for your theme song Gingatetsudo no Yoru ~STARDUST EXPRESS~ and the related costume design all have a steampunk-ish image. ZERO, could you please tell us more about it?

ZERO: When we first started creating it, we didn’t use steampunk as a keyword, but as time progressed and the deadline drew closer we still couldn’t decide on a main image. But when we had all of the demos together in one place, the image was definitely steampunk-esque, so we just followed along with it and it progressed on from there.

What is your favourite track from Hyakuoku no mirai to tatta hitotsu no ima -INFINITE∞FUTURE-? Why do you like it so much? And which of these tracks reflects the present THE MICRO HEAD 4N'S the most, and why?

Nimo: Labyrinth, because it brings out the most energy in lives in one go. The song that most reflects THE MICRO HEAD 4N’S is probably Gingatetsudou no Yoru?
kazuya: INFINITE∞FUTURE. I won’t say in detail why, but it’s a song that expresses all the bittersweet memories that I’ve had so far in my life, and for that reason it’s a very important song to me.
SHUN.: PERSONA. Personally, I love medium to heavy tracks, but as it has a mixture of elements to it, it’s a song that really shines during concerts.
ZERO: REINCARNATION. It’s developed into a fairly aggressive song, but as we’ve done more and more concerts, it’s become a song that feels great to play and has a fantastic way of producing a sense of unity.
TSUKASA: SYNCOPATED LOVERS. It changes key all over the place, but it sounds really smooth and is great to listen to. I think it’s a series of chords that other bands won’t be able to copy. I love its atmosphere.

Are there any funny anecdotes of the recording process for Hyakuoku no mirai to tatta hitotsu no ima -INFINITE∞FUTURE- or your latest single Jougen no tsuki no Orchestra -Stella Note Magic- that you can share with us?

Nimo: From the album’s recording, it would have to be SHUN. becoming a professional at death-voice shouting.
kazuya: It would have to be the happiness of the moment when we asked the song arranger to sort the strings section for Jougen no tsuki no Orchestra. When it was finished, I was so moved that I nearly cried.
SHUN.: During MONSTER’S ROAR, there’s a death-voice chorus, and within three seconds, my voice had totally gone hoarse.
ZERO: In one song, we had finished the drum recording, and the bass recording, and the guitar recording was half done "before" we had a key change. It was different only by nanometers.
TSUKASA: For the first time during concerts, I think it was during Jougen no tsuki no Orchestra ~Stella Note Magic~, I noticed that I need to stop myself from hitting my head on the cymbals. Even now, I still sometimes hit my head during concerts. I’ll try hard from now on not to hit my head on the cymbals anymore…

On Hyakuoku no mirai to tatta hitotsu no ima -INFINITE∞FUTURE-, there are songs such as Labyrinth and PERSONA, which possess a strong and somehow dark atmosphere. What did you want to express with these songs, especially with PERSONA?

Nimo: What PERSONA is expressing is the idea that one cannot know what is going on in the depths of human hearts. No matter how much you want the truth, you can only make truth and lies within your own heart.
kazuya: We’ve made a lot of songs that sound very pop, so it’s a song that is the opposite of that. It’s a song that I could cry to, or at least that would make my heart thump in my chest, so along with it being a song that I made, that’s a very important point to me.

Within the tracklist of Hyakuoku no mirai to tatta hitotsu no ima -INFINITE∞FUTURE- there are also previously released songs. How difficult was it for you to decide which of the already released songs you wanted to feature on the album? And what criteria did you use for your decisions?

kazuya: Basically, we thought about it as a whole. Also, we’re definitely a concert-focused band, so we settled on a release that would make our fans happy while producing a great live atmosphere.

Let’s focus on your summer tour now. The tour started back on July 1st and lasted until August 27th. Since this tour also marked your sixth anniversary, what can you reveal to us about the progress of the tour? Were there any specific aims you wanted to achieve with this tour?

Nimo: Partway through the summer tour, my health took a turn for the worse and the members really helped me through. I think that it really strengthened our bonds as THE MICRO HEAD 4N’S.
kazuya: I said it earlier but, it wasn’t just ordering songs, we also made instrumentals that showed the characters of the members, and in order for people to understand what we were going for with the album, we planned to show the entertainment factor of THE MICRO HEAD 4N’S right down to the background music in the venue to the opening music itself. Also, we were able to overcome Nimo’s illness, and I think that we really developed the connections between both the members and the fans.
SHUN.: We didn’t have a clear goal in mind but we always think about making each and every live special, and how to give them meaning.
ZERO: The previous winter, my knees had started to hurt, so I aimed to be able to overcome this health issue with the tour. But I pushed it too much from the beginning of the tour, and as we approached the halfway point, my ribs started to hurt…
TSUKASA: The people of my hometown have only ever seen me singing enka, so I wanted them to see another side of me, the side that plays the drums. Rather than feeling that and approaching the tour final, I actually had the feeling that I wanted to hold a great concert.

This tour also featured lives that were produced by your members individually. Can you tell us what makes these lives so different from the regular THE MICRO HEAD 4N'S shows? Also, what kind of memories did you make during them?

Nimo: For the concert that I produced, we held an acoustic concert. I love acoustic concerts because they’re able to deliver words and sound directly to our fans.
kazuya: I’m fascinated by the nerves that doing something out of the ordinary produces.
SHUN.: I think it’s interesting to be able to add your own colours to a concert. You can see an interesting side of us as THE MICRO HEAD 4N'S
ZERO: I got to hold my concert on my birthday, so it was all about the entertainment value. Even from where people would enter the venue, because I don’t speak a lot during MCs, I recorded something to play instead. There were a lot of things that I put thought into. The production was very different from the point you entered and went home, so I think that people managed to have a lot of fun, right?
TSUKASA: Member-produced concerts allow each of us to do what we want to do. I think that concerts that focus on hometown jokes emphasize Japanese culture, and even if we have western instruments, it’s interesting to really be able to feel that quintessential “Japanese-ness”.

On September 20th, the three-man live OUT OF CONTROL followed your tour, and a short tour titled "Crazy Monsters" ~HALLOWEEN PARTY 2017~" took place in October as well. What can you tell us about these shows?

Nimo: I dressed up as a girl again this time. I was wearing a skirt so it was really hard to walk! (laughs)
kazuya: It’s the first time we’ve done a concert with A9, so I was really happy!
SHUN.: I did an unusual cosplay, and it was a bit like a festival so I really enjoyed the whole event!
ZERO: It was an OUT OF CONTROL three-man that I never thought would happen. Also, we had to wear Halloween costumes and I really struggled to decide when I was looking for one. Actually, because he overcomes a lot of hurdles, I secretly enjoyed Nimo’s troubled face when I handed him the girl costume.
TSUKASA: It was funny to show a side of THE MICRO HEAD 4N’S that is rarely seen.

In the past, you already had a coupling tour with defspiral, and together you formed the band 9BALL GAMES. Could you imagine going on a coupling tour in Europe with defspiral together or as 9BALL GAMES someday?

Nimo: From March 2018, 9BALL GAMES will be starting again. It would be really fun to do it overseas as well. There’s no mistaking the fact that everyone would be really content with that.
kazuya: I really want to go to Europe as 9BALL GAMES!! There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that it would be fun!
SHUN.: It’s our third time as 9BALL GAMES, but it’s our first doing it as this group of nine people, so I think that the tour will be totally different this time around.
ZERO: I think up to now we’ve been a band that has been pretty active overseas, so we want to take the stance that we could go anywhere at any time to do it.
TSUKASA: We went to America together in our previous bands, so I could see it happening again. That would be such a wonderful thing!

You released your new single, Jougen no tsuki no Orchestra -Stella Note Magic-, on November 22nd. The sound of the title track is very romantic. What would you like to express with this song? Was there a special concept or meaning behind this new track and title?

Nimo: We wanted to make this song as an orchestra that we could sing together with My Clones (the name of THE MICRO HEAD 4N’S’ fans).
kazuya: We really wanted to use the word “orchestra” in the title no matter what. I think that this song easily shows the pop side that I have. Also, we wanted to show a side of THE MICRO HEAD 4N’S that we hadn’t shown before.

For the music video of Jougen no tsuki no Orchestra -Stella Note Magic-, you filmed in a green screen box. Was this your first time shooting a video with this technique? In which way does it differ from filming a regular music video?

Nimo: When you use a green screen, it’s like entering a different, unreal world, so I think the video became more fantastical than usual.
kazuya: This time we had a whole new MV team, so we had a lot of meetings. We haven’t really been able to use a green screen before, so the filming and editing processes were really exciting.
SHUN.: I’ve done it with different bands in the past but this was our first time doing it as THE MICRO HEAD 4N’S. I think we really managed to produce a video that we haven’t seen before as THE MICRO HEAD 4N’S. Please go and take a look at me sitting on the moon! (laughs)
ZERO: I’ve used green screen in the past but I’m always worried about the fact that you can’t see the finished product at the time of shooting. Even so, the filming team we used this time was really good.
TSUKASA: It was my first time ever using a green screen. I thought that it was so amazing that mere humans can make such things. Next time, I want to try and incorporate pictures that I’ve drawn.

The single features new arrangements of EARNEST GAME and MONSTER'S ROAR. Why have you decided to re-arrange these two tracks? How do they differ from their original versions?

kazuya: At ZERO’s request, we made EARNEST GAME faster, as if imagining F1. MONSTER’S ROAR was made more ferocious.
ZERO: We finished the full album and were able to compose whole concerts made of the current members’ songs, but these two were songs that really fired the crowds up, so we planned to rerecord them. I think that by lowering the key, they became a lot more aggressive and energetic.

SHUN., in more and more songs you show your skills as a DJ. Compared to the beginning of THE MICRO HEAD 4N'S, do you think that this makes the band’s sound more unique and more refined? How do you handle both the guitar and DJ equipment at lives at the same time?

SHUN.: Recently, DJs aren’t really popular at ordinary concerts, but before there used to be a DJ corner, and I would match the scratching with the band sound. Originally, I loved EDM (electronic dance music), so I think that we will continue to incorporate DJ sounds into our music. Even now, we have times where the DJ sounds are the main point of recording.

Recently, you signed with the European label Gan-Shin Records. When you think back on this milestone, what comes to your minds?

kazuya: We were so happy to have been asked. I think that they have given us another chance to be able to go to the Europe that we all love so much. I’d be really happy if they could keep supporting THE MICRO HEAD 4N’S with such good relations.

To conclude our interview, please leave a message for JaME’s readers.

Nimo: I’m dreaming of a time when we can sing together abroad, so in order for everyone to keep smiling, I’m going to keep singing! Please think kindly of me!
kazuya: For me, THE MICRO HEAD 4N’S is a band that dreams, and it is a band that I made with the intention that it would be my last. I’d be really happy if you could see it as my form of existence. Musically, I think that we show all the colours of Japanese melodies. And I think that you can really feel hope at our concerts. I really want to be able to share that with the fans overseas. I love you all!
SHUN.: We haven’t been able to do a concert overseas for a long time, so I’d be really happy if we could go and perform in many different countries. Please think kindly of us!
ZERO: We haven’t been able to do a concert abroad for a few years but, as I said, I’m always prepared for that eventuality! If it’s music, I’m not inclined to prefer Japan or overseas over the other, but if we have the opportunity I want to be able to come and meet everyone abroad! I’m looking forward to meeting everyone in their own countries!
TSUKASA: I want to go overseas again and improve myself. If I do that, we can come back to Japan and display a whole new THE MICRO HEAD 4N’S, and I think that our fans would be very happy about it. I want to be able to support and motivate each other that way. I want to be able to say that I’m happy. Let’s all become happy, okay!!

The CM long version of the music video for Jougen no tsuki no Orchestra -Stella Note Magic- can be viewed below:

JaME would like to thank THE MICRO HEAD 4N'S and Gan-Shin Records for making this interview possible.
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