Interview with Naoki of Jinkaku Radio

interview - 03.20.2010 20:01

The producer and bassist of Jinkaku Radio chatted with us about the group's beginnings, their upcoming album and where they're headed.

Last year, rock band Jinkaku Radio returned from a long break . The break from live activities was taken in order to work on a new album and now that they're performing live again, we took the opportunity to have a chat with the two band members to see how they are doing and what progress they have made on the new album's recording.

We spoke to both vocalist Yuuki and bassist/producer Naoki. Both men were very chatty so the interviews were split up -- expect Yuuki's interview soon.

Could you introduce yourself, please?

Naoki: I’m Naoki, bassist of Jinkaku Radio. Basically I’m the producer of the band.

We would like to start with a few questions about the beginnings of Jinkaku Radio. First of all, we would like to know how the two of you met each other and what made you decide to start a band together?

Naoki: I’ll tell you how we began from my point of view. When my former band disbanded, I was going to start a new band and first I searched for a vocalist. Then I saw the band Yuuki was in, because one of my friends was a member of that band, and he said, “our bassist is going to leave the band, so would you join us, Naoki?” He invited me to his live and I went to see his band. I thought, “ah, this vocalist is good.” That was Yuuki. I didn't want to join the band, I just wanted to work with Yuuki. About a year went by and Yuuki’s band broke up, the members left and I asked him to make a new band with me. At first Yuuki wanted to continue his earlier band, but I persuaded him to do a new one with just the two of us. That's how Jinkaku Radio was formed in 2000.

"Jinkaku" means "personality" or "character", so Jinkaku Radio translates to "Personality Radio" in English. What is the meaning behind this name?

Naoki: I picked the name, after thinking about different things. I always struggle when answering that, so I’m not sure the best way to explain it, but basically when I interpreted my thoughts toward the band originally, it becomes the band "Jinkaku Radio". For me, the band equals "Jinkaku Radio."

Are you emphasizing the word "Jinkaku" or "Radio"?

Naoki: I added the word "Radio" after thinking about it for quite a while, and I chose it for the sound. "Jinkaku" came from the meaning of "constructing personalities." Music is essential for radio, and we release music on a radio. So it means "we express the personalities we've created, ourselves, on the radio through music as the band.”

We wondered why you put "radio" and "personality" together. "Music is made by humans." So is "personality" the symbol of the band for you?

Naoki: The way I feel is, a large part of who I am is influenced by - and created by - music. So what I do will also be creation of music. As they say, "we are all influenced by bands and each personality is created there." So "radio" is a totally different thing.

Now people listen to music in different forms, and "radio" has a nostalgic ring to it, it has that human, personal aspect. By the way, Naoki, what kind of person is Yuuki?

Naoki:….……He is a child (bursts out laughing). He is like my younger brother, like my son… I see him like that for about 90% of the time (laughs). And I work in the position of a producer, so I see him as an artist.

Seeing him as an artist, what did you think he was good at? Was it his vocals?

Naoki: It wasn’t his singing. Well, I think I could see his way of expressing himself on the stage in terms of potential, like "he would be better if he did this."

At that time, Yuuki was still dressing up beautifully when he sang, right?

Naoki: Yes, he was doing that.

Then, you imagined he would be better if he changed his way of expression?

Naoki: Uhm, I thought so as I played with him, but when I first started working with him, I just thought "he's good."

According to Yuuki, each of you has what the other lacks. Naoki, you could see his violent emotions and quick wit. Do you complement each other?

Naoki: I think we balance each other. However, Yuuki is more childish, in both good and bad ways (laugh). So I supply whatever he’s lacking in, and getting that balance is our work, we always try to do that. I let him do whatever he wants, and I look at it objectively and add what’s needed.

Earlier, Yuuki said when he makes rough drafts of songs and hands them over to you, he doesn’t explain “add something here” or “leave this part alone.” You already understand what to do without him saying anything. Would you agree that when you hear his songs, you know what he wants you to do?

Naoki: To put it another way, I won’t do anything unless an image comes to me smoothly. I only do songs I can imagine. Prince (Yuuki) says I’m making the songs the way he wanted them, but it’s more like he’s the one making me do it. (laugh) That’s the picture he’s showing me.

According to Yuuki, he hasn’t clicked with anyone to that extent before, but when he showed you something, you understood what to do.

Naoki: Yes, that might be my strong point. But if I tried with someone else’s songs, I might not be able to.

For most of your career, you’ve worked with support members called “half-radio.” Could you tell us a bit about your most recent support members, like guitarist John and drummer Shin? For example, how did you meet them?

Naoki: It was just the two of us playing so we needed some support members, but it was a simple process, we just met over drinks. (laugh)

So you met, clicked with each other, and said “let’s play together”?

Naoki: I wouldn’t say we clicked with each other. It was more like, they’re younger than me, they’re my juniors, so… “Do it!” (bursts out laughing) They wouldn’t lose anything, and I wouldn’t ask someone unless I knew they’d accept. As a producer, I chose people who made me think “if they join, it’s good for them and for us.” I didn’t pick just anybody, it had to be someone I could imagine with us. Well, for Shin, my thinking was different, but for the other members it went like that.

Last year, you had a break in live activities so you could work on the new album. So far, there’s been no album or announcement about it, so we are wondering how that’s progressing?

Naoki: We have about five or six demo songs and they already have lyrics. We hope to make another five or six more.

What kind of songs are they? Yuuki said he wants people to listen to your melodies more.

Naoki: Before we started making the album, we talked about it and decided to make it a concept album. The phrase “amusement park” (yuuenchi) came to mind, so we started creating with that concept at the base. But Yuuki didn’t constrain himself to that completely, he’s been making songs without worrying about the concept. However, I don’t just go along with him, I always keep the amusement park concept in the corner of my mind and try to connect it to that.

In 2007 you released a live DVD. Can we expect more of those from you in the future?

Naoki: There will be more live DVDs as we make more songs. As the songs increase, naturally the DVDs will too because there will be more footage. We want to release as much as we can.

You have recently joined a new management. Why did you make this change and what will it mean for your fans and future listeners?

Naoki: I was living my life and releasing music, and for the past year I worried about doing Jinkaku Radio, I got to the point where I wasn’t sure if I should keep doing it. I decided to continue after all, and from there I thought about what we needed most, and that was management. We’d been doing everything by ourselves, but we needed a base to show our spirit and what we want Jinkaku Radio to become. We knew we couldn’t do everything ourselves, so we decided we needed a company to present us clearly to society, and to individuals. It helps us protect ourselves, and for the sake of the fans too, we needed better management, so that’s how it happened.

Will it bring some changes from now on?

Naoki: I think so. But probably just in terms of our image. People have different ways of interpreting it. Each person can change our image and perceive it differently, and there may be people who say we’ve changed, and people who say we haven’t. But, it’s probably better if they feel like we’ve changed.

Recently, you set up a MySpace page. Why did you decide to do that, what are your expectations?

Naoki: Personally, I am really glad to be doing an interview like this today because I want to do lives overseas, and I want people overseas to listen to our music. MySpace is a music community so I figured I should at least try it for a while. I wanted to see how I might be able to communicate through it, so that’s why I set up a MySpace page.

How was the reaction?

Naoki: I’m not sure…because it’s only in English (bursts out laughing). But it’s still just the beginning, people around me don’t know about it. I haven’t told people overseas yet either, so we’ll see what the reaction is from now on.

You were active with the session band ANNY'S LTD. a few years ago. What was the reason behind starting this band?

Naoki: I was asked by the other band members.

The band was inspired by Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange," right?

Naoki: Yes. We play using that concept. The movie is special, everyone likes it, and it’s good, so when someone suggested we go with that, we agreed, “let's do it.” Even now when we see the movie, we feel new.

Do you have plans to become active with ANNY’S again any time soon?

Naoki: We haven’t made plans yet, but we are good friends, so we might meet and decide to play again.

What do you think about the fact that you have some fans overseas?

Naoki: I sometimes get letters, and I personally want to go overseas, I really want to go soon. However...Yuuki is a man who is slow to start! (bursts out laughing) I want to go really bad.

Do you think Jinkaku Radio’s international fan base is big enough to make it happen?

Naoki: Maybe… there are about fourteen fans in France. (bursts out laughing) And about four fans in South America. (laugh) I hope we have lots of fans in Thailand.

Where do you want to do lives overseas?

Naoki: I want to go everywhere. As for Jinkaku Radio, we could do lives wherever Yuuki could get his Japanese jokes through. (laugh)

Musically I think you would be preferred in the UK.

Naoki: Yes. There are areas where we play with a British image.

I wonder how foreign people will react when you play Bangyaru shoukougun and Oningyousan.

Naoki: Yes. I think they could enjoy the same feeling as in Japan.

Could you tell us a little about your plans for the near future?

Naoki: We’ll release the second album in six or seven years! (laugh) We’ll release it in the spring, do our tour, and go overseas… well, I’ll barely persuade Yuuki. (bursts out laughing) In Japan, I think visual kei connects to anime easily. So if we could do an anime collaboration and go overseas, I think it would be an easier way for foreigners to understand us.

Please leave a message for our readers.

Naoki: Now you can listen to the music of Jinkaku Radio online, but if you want a CD, please raise your voices and say “our country doesn’t have their CDs” or “I want to see Jinkaku Radio’s lives in my country.” I want to get things moving, and if a lot of people make their voices heard, the people around me will get moving too, so please give us your support!
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