2018 Barks – Japan Music Network – DAISHI Interview
Pt. 1 “The presentation of our band is intentional”
Psycho le Cému are opening their Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka tour “FANTASIA” with their roleplaying worldview, in a performance at Nagoya Bottomline on December 8th. During this tour there’ll be venue-limited CD releases, where one melody and lyrics has been arranged in 3 different ways: “FANTASIA ~koi no gensoukyoku~”, “FANTASIA ~ikari no gensoukyoku~”, and “FANTASIA ~yuuki no gensoukyoku”. It will be a personal trilogy delivered in 3 parts. With “FANTASIA” as the key word, BARKS is drawing close to their light and shadow and the inevitability that Psycho le Cému gave rise to. Here’s DAISHI in the first interview.
In the first interview with Daishi, we’ll peruse the core of the factors that make up Psycho le Cému, such as: “unprecedented musical entertainment”, “a feeling of sound without genre”, “cosplay band/dance band”, “pop and comical and thrill”, etc. Since their revival they draw closer to the present day with certainty.
The interview that follows was conducted by Joe Yokomizu.
◆ ◆ ◆
Psycho le Cému is unique as a cosplay band in the world of rock. But it’s not just cosplay, they also include plays and comedy in their lives, with a freedom to bring “laughter” to the world of rock more than any other band. Where do these ideas and form of expressions come from? We heard from the frontman DAISHI about this.
──First of all, the point that I’m most interested in is, “Where did the form of expression for this band come from?” Cosplay completely exceeds the framework of Visual Kei, and as a band the songs aren’t the only part of your performances. Where did these breakthrough ideas come from?
DAISHI： Before Psycho le Cému began, I was in a band with Lida. We were aiming for it to be a band like GLAY and L’Arc-en-Ciel, but that didn’t sell very well. (laughs)
DAISHI： But someone from hide’s office came to see that band. And one song was really good, and that person said “I think you could even go to Tokyo with songs like that.” But at that time we’d already done lives in Tokyo. Since I thought that it’s absolutely impossible to take on Tokyo as we are, I said, “Can you wait just one year? I’ll make an amazing band.” And then I tried to make a band by discarding everything I thought was cool. My concepts were, “Don’t wear black”, “Be the gaudiest indies band”, “be a band that does the strangest things”. And then I recruited all the members in one go. But people who have band experience generally hate a band with that kind of concept. It seemed that seek and AYA in particular wanted to do some cool Visual Kei, so I think there was a bit of conflict. Actually, in the beginning seek was obstinate about “I hate not having any black” and so he was the only one wearing black. But before you know it, seek became the gaudiest one. (laughs)
──I think you’re saying you went for things like “gaudy” and “conspicuous” to get out of the crowds and make sales, but how did you get your incredible cosplay ideas?
DAISHI： Lida has always liked war troops, and we were drawing things like anime and special effects makeup with the two of us, so by then he didn’t hate it. But, when it comes to how we could express those things as a band, we didn’t understand how to go about it. AYA and Yura-sama brought the influence of games, since seek and I really can’t play games at all. And Lida liked Seikima II. These were the components of creating Psycho le Cému around that time.
──But Seikima II has a reputation for high powered performance, and Visual Kei is considered to be a skillful performance. Despite this, in the case of Psycho le Cému, 2 people aren’t performing at lives but dancing instead?
DAISHI： Yeah. (laughs) The dancing is a little detached from the band concept. Yura-sama had the idea of “I want to stand out like a vocalist” so didn’t perform. And so that was Yura-sama’s personal desire. (laughs) The balance was bad with just Yura-sama dancing, so he tentatively got AYA to dance with him too, and I was a dance partner for balance. (laughs)
──I see. Going back to the discussion, your original band concept was “don’t wear black, be gaudy, do strange things” but did the audience get that?
DAISHI： They got it. In particular during our indies time, there weren’t social networking services like there are now, so when we appeared wearing our eccentric costumes, everyone laughed at us. But when we were laughed at, I thought “Ah, we’re good at this.” And when the curtains opened all of the guests were laughing, but when we started playing the music everyone in the audience suddenly started dancing.
──They’d understand if they watch a cinematic trailer, but in Japanese films, people are always dying and crying. I think those are the emotions of this country. But, it was rather brave of you to take such a huge risk as making people laugh, wasn’t it?
DAISHI： Yeah, we were brave! Come to think of it, when all seats sold out at the MUSIC FARM livehouse in Nagoya, it was the first time that more than half of the audience remained seating for us. But seeing their reactions, I thought “We’re good at this.” And sure enough, the next time we performed in Nagoya, we’d made a wave. I knew that the people who had been sitting had come back. In short, it was like, “the people who like us are a little bit mean” and I thought that was why they stayed in their seats. And because of that, we were ignited from Nagoya. We had to be more mobile than the bands preceding us. So the rejection was important.
──Nevertheless, “laughter and rock” are as incompatible as “oil and water”. Rock isn’t about laughter, it’s music with anger at its base. Of course, in America there are bands with a comical factor like the Blues Brothers, but if we’re talking about Japan then the combination of rock and laughter is almost nonexistent.
DAISHI： Not at all! Because there was The Drifters! (laughs)
──But The Drifters were closer to jazz, they weren’t rock.
DAISHI： Certainly. There were very few, and none in Visual Kei.
──Isn’t screaming “Kyaa!” significant for Visual Kei?
DAISHI： But nobody screamed “Kyaa!” for us!! (laughs)
──Well, what about “Gyaa!”
DAISHI： There was definitely “Gyaa!” (laughs) But it’s like, “Why are they saying “Kyaa!” when we look like this?” But even when we were more stylish, nobody said “Kyaa!”… It’s a strange thing.
──How do you perceive “laughter and rock”?
DAISHI： At first we didn’t do drama plays during lives, and no comedy skits either. Our costumes were cosplay, but we were a band that did only intense songs and no MC. Along the way we included laughter as a component and our costume colours changed from mainly red and green to pastel. Like light blue and yellow and orange. At that time, we suddenly moved downward. (laughs)
DAISHI： Really. It wasn’t just a musical performance, but we included drama plays and our intention was to challenge ourselves to ‘level up’ by doing things that nobody else was doing, but the fans didn’t understand. It was like they felt, “Eh? The old ordinary colours were fine.” But we went down with guts and then somehow came back up again. There may have been fans who left us in an instant, but as we started doing more different things, we came back up. But that period of 2-3 months when we were going down was difficult on the members. It was overkill as you’d expect. (laughs)
──Hahaha. If it’s the case of a fusion of “laughter and rock” and furthermore with Visual Kei, I’d expect that it was all very new.
DAISHI： Honestly, I’ve even been thinking recently that there are so many people who don’t want to laugh much. It’ll usually be clothes that are nothing but affecting a stylish air, and fans that say “That’s cool.” (laughs) It’s difficult.
──But, although you had a downward slump, your live activity after that got better, right?
DAISHI： We formed in 1999 and immediately increased with a snowball effect, and our last indies performance at Nakano Sun Plaza was 2 days. Because before that it was 2 days at Shibuya Koukaidou. In indies you do that 2 day package. And furthermore, our oneman in Tokyo at International Forum Hall was completely sold out.
──And you didn’t have social networking services then, right?
DAISHI： Not at all. We may have triumphed due to the lack of it. Because when there’s social networking, everyone worries about being seen. After all, it was like looking at something frightening, you know? Since at that time there was only flyer distribution and CDs. Analogue media has an interesting feeling, right?
──Incidentally, isn’t your cosplay material inexhaustible?
DAISHI： It’s exhaustible. Therefore we make good use of the carrot and stick policy. Things like “A concept for the fans this time” and “An additional concept to turn to”. We do that when various members are thinking about things, but naturally the subject matter can run out.
──It’s difficult to always be stylish, and it’s difficult to think about comedic subject matter while in a rock band… Do you find either of these difficult?
DAISHI： I think they are, but isn’t it somehow boring according to the people who say they don’t like popular people?
DAISHI： Yeah, even if you look at it on a global scale. It’s like that for Queen, when people who aren’t interested look at their open-chest suits, they have a sense of “Eh? What a strange person.” and I think people who can become popular have a sense for that. Even in Japan for instance, it’s the same for Ulfuls and Sharam Q. In the case of Sharam Q I think they’re incredibly strange to look at. But… their name is pretty well known in the Kansai region. (laughs) And Kome Kome Club are in Kansai too right (laughs)
──Now, with Japanese bands that have big names, I think about whether they’re a model or original. There are those saying things like “We were inspired by 〇〇” but Psycho le Cému has exceeded that stage.
DAISHI： In our case, it’s because you can plainly see it’s Akira Toriyama. (laughs) Ahh, our musician model certainly isn’t transparent, is it? What’s transparent is Akira Toriyama and “Final Fantasy”!! But since I didn’t know about that, it was difficult to learn about it. Although I don’t play video games, I just read the instruction manuals for video games so it’s confusing to me.
──And how about your fans? Are there a lot who like video games?
DAISHI： No. There aren’t fans who like games. If we had fans who were into games, I think we could be even more successful. Our fans are usually girls. But lately the amount of boys are increasing.
──Haven’t you thought about winning over otaku fans?
DAISHI： As for winning over otaku fans, I think it wouldn’t be impossible if they aren’t people with that kind of smell. It’s impossible if they’re the same smelly guys. I think they’re a lot different from us.
──Daishi-san, you certainly have zero otaku sense don’t you?
DAISHI： From talking about it and from my ordinary clothes I’m clearly not an otaku. But actually I wanted to be like “Shokotan” (Nakagawa Shouko). If we can win over otaku fans that would be best, but I don’t even read manga.
──Are you someone who works to the bitter end?
DAISHI： And moreover, when I was young I wasn’t really into bands or music itself.
──Is that so? Then, what does your presentation have its roots in?
DAISHI： Maybe it was because wanting to become popular as a band was the main thing. If I dig even deeper, some of my classmates were TRANSTIC NERVE (now defspiral). This lesser band in my hometown was discovered by HIDE-san and debuted afterward. Ahh, those guys got popular. So, that was a great trauma. And so the truth is, for me, anger was the biggest root of me being in a band. Furthermore, it was pretty familiar. (laughs) Not like “How about the world!” but the kind of anger where I craved victory over my hometown classmates. (laughs)
──I see. The roots of your presentation is in jealousy then.
DAISHI： That may have been the biggest factor. Those guys seemed to sparkle, you know? In those days I had nothing but a part time job, and those guys were going to Tokyo saying “We were noticed by HIDE-san!” Even though we watched music videos, we weren’t on that level of perfection. Moreover, because lesser bands only do music performances, they can get noticed while saying “Wouldn’t it be weird if we won like this”. And you know, for me, having two people on vocals gave the impression “Because these people are here we can only make a band like Psycho le Cému.” With one person, At that time the vocalist of Ray formed cune as Kobayashi Ryouzou. Another person at that time was the vocalist of Waive, now Takayuki Tazawa of Rayflower. When these two performed at the same event, I thought “it’s impossible for my singing to be like this” and I got better at singing along with them.
──What was the main factor in getting popular?
DAISHI： There are people who say things like “Sony always makes sales so I don’t understand why we couldn’t!!” for example, but because the band didn’t sell well in the beginning we had to extend ourselves strategically, and understand one way or another that the numbers getting bigger was a factor. Because the presentation of our band is all intentional anyway. (laughs)
──It’s a strange thing to talk about, but isn’t there a form of Psycho le Cému that you like the best?
DAISHI： There’s no particular form I like the best. If we get popular I want to wear civilian clothes. (laughs) A form like Himurock (Kyousuke Himuro) is cool though. But I think we weren’t in a position to choose. Bearing in mind my singing ability, there’s a deviation from the performance skill of the members. (laughs) So I feel that the entertainment we provide as Psycho le Cému is a total of various things. And in my case, I’m not a vocalist who leads steadily. But actually, I wanted to lead a band like Kyo of DIR EN GREY. And like Kiyoharu. It seemed like that in my eyes but it was like “I’ll do it like that!” But, everybody could tell you that I was no good. (laughs) I had to step back a little and plunge into singing.
──That’s an interesting center, isn’t it?
DAISHI： It’s not a center I’m completely eager to show. I don’t often appear as an eager vocalist do I? But even if that’s not my center it seems to be okay.
──Is that the nature of your personality?
DAISHI： I think staging is a natural ability. From the time AYA was a senior high student, he was good at staging. Me on the other hand, I show my own charm backstage and at social events. (laughs)
Pt. 2 “I was finished” – Lyrics about an incident
In 2004, Psycho le Cému ranked in the American magazine “NEWS WEEK” as among the “100 most respected Japanese people in the world”, but in 2005 the band met a huge crisis when Daishi was arrested for drug use. And then, breakup and revival. 13 years have passed since that incident, and the new song “FANTASIA” which is being released has Daishi in charge of writing song lyrics for the first time after the incident.
In the concluding part of this interview we heard about his thoughts on “FANTASIA” and things like that.
◆ ◆ ◆
──This year is 19 years since your formation right?
DAISHI： Yeah. Because next year will be the 20th year.
──In the first part of this interview you said that since there weren’t social networking services at the time of your debut, people seeing you for the first time were shocked. But now since pictures and other things can be spread via social networking services it’s a feeling of deja-vu. What kind of things do you think you’ll do with your live performances from this point on?
DAISHI： I think it’s the difference between the carrot and the stick. That is to say, a technique we’ve used a lot since our revival. Occasionally we’ll be a super good looking band, to show that gap. And then…
DAISHI： In my case, even when we do the regal good-looking lives, there are three characteristics. There’s dance, and there’s drama. What we do is in part determined by the size of the venue. For example, in a Hall it’ll be shrewd entertainment, but in a livehouse we’ll take down the opposition by emphasizing “It’s rock!” Because of that we have the confidence that you’ll “enjoy the live at the venue”
──Halloween has gotten bigger in Japan in the last few years hasn’t it? My point is, I think there’s entertainment that isn’t sufficient just to watch on the internet. It’s not just singing together at a venue, but participating in costumes and cosplay. You could say that Psycho le Cému are one of the pioneers of that.
DAISHI： Thank you so much. Anyway, even I thought that the way you spoke about lives now was interesting. What I mean is, it’s like even the audience become the performers, right?
DAISHI： The truth is, there’s a time when we decide about how to construct the drama we present midway through our lives. For example, we’ve also done dramas using the guests as the cast. And we intend for all of the guests to somehow be immersed in the drama we’re making for our new song “FANTASIA” (a live limited single). But it’s not forced labour for the guests. To say it a bit more concretely, if the guests don’t have something the drama won’t proceed. Moreover, after they go back home, if they bought goods at the venue they’ll prepare their items to put up on social networking services… Now it’s like, a trial and error formula of “if I apply an RPG worldview to social networking and the live venue.” They can get items with their smartphones, and I think it’ll be interesting if we have the quest and solution at the live like “Actually the person who noticed there’s something over there…” Is this unique to Psycho le Cému I wonder?
──That’s completely a new form of live. What’s the chance you can implement it?
DAISHI： We attempted several items, but it still isn’t working very well. But, we can go ahead with those trials on the next tour, so please pay attention.
──We’re definitely paying attention! When you have a fusion of lives that only a limited number of people can experience, with social networking services that an unlimited number of people can experience all the time, I think a cleverly close kind of entertainment is born. And it seems that being outside the box like that is what Psycho le Cému does.
DAISHI： As you’d expect, we want to do interesting things. Even though I say that, we’re absolutely not Disney entertainment. I want to put in the few good points we have that aren’t in Disneyland. And skillfully combining the net and social networking services is extremely important too. For example, you go to a live and then participate in the events on social networking services, and only the people who have the solution to the quest will obtain the new song. Things like that. Not just buying the new song with money.
──Which reminds me, your current new song “FANTASIA” is a live venue limited release for Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka, and the arrangement of the song is different for each venue, right? Where did the idea come from to have 3 patterns for the arrangement?
DAISHI： I’m always the one thinking about the concepts and the drama. There has always been cliche things like rescuing a princess, and defeating a dragon, but this time I’m thinking about a story using an RPG worldview as the base. But since this is the first time I’ve written lyrics for a new song since the band’s revival, when I think about the things I haven’t done so far, for example, “What should I search for?” I’ll also think “How can I search for a song that’s an illusion of our ideals?” and if you look up “searching for an illusion” on the net, you can get words like “fantasia” and I decided “Ah, well, I’ll make that the story of searching for an illusion song” so the title of the new song became “FANTASIA”.
DAISHI： Moreover, for example, in the drama we’ll have things like “encountering a dragon” and when we level up, it’s established that we’ll find the fantasy. In other words, aside from selling CDs, in the drama there’ll usually be a level up item such as an “illusion song” for everyone to get. When there are 3 of them it’s interesting, but you don’t need to have all 3 of the CDs. However, with a pattern of 3 it’s a lot more like an item, and it’ll be like that if there are people who go to all of the venues. Since there are 3 live performances, but the same lyrics and melody, we’ve altered the arrangement to “Love, Anger, and Courage” so I think they’re pretty important items. But when I talked it over with the members, you know, they said, “do we have the skill to perform 3 patterns of lives?” (laughs)
DAISHI： I said yes. I can sing in 3 patterns, can’t I? Although the members said they’d try to do their best, we were actually all worried you know? Because to say the least, the melody and lyrics go together all along. And speaking of that I was really worried about the lyrics too.
──What worried you about the lyrics of “FANTASIA”?
DAISHI： First there’s the “Love” version. This one is like a ballad. Secondly there’s the “Anger” version. This one is a violent rock number suited to us. Third, for the “Courage” version, we thought we’d do something like pop. But then, which version would suit the lyrics the most?
──The degree of difficulty is high with those lyrics isn’t it?
DAISHI： Yeah. When there’s things in it like “I love you” and “falling in love” people are pulled in by that. But if I include words like “Love” and “Anger” and “Courage” then when those are in the chorus that worldview can pull people in, but even if they’re included, they can be included in the A-melody and B-melody where they’re not noticed.
──That’s certainly true.
DAISHI： I figure out things like that, but the subject matter of the lyrics is at its foundation things like my thoughts after our revival, something only I could write. As you know, it seemed at one time that I ended the band… This song is the first time I’ve written lyrics since after our revival. Therefore I want to sing it like “I’ve tied myself to all of the members one more time with our melody.” I was thinking, hasn’t it been quite a long time since everyone has listened to our debut song “Ai no Uta”? So I included the words “ai no uta” in the lyrics too. Therefore, this song is a song completely for the fans. It’s not “for people all over the world” or “to a girl I like”, it’s just for the fans.
──Was it easy to write lyrics just for the fans?
DAISHI： Yeah. Because I’m writing for the people who listen to our songs more than anything else. I don’t write often for people who don’t listen to us, you know? And for this kind of visual kei, it’s a case of writing while being completely in character too. But in times like that it feels like wordplay, without much emotion. This time I’ve put in my own feelings. I think the members also understood when they read it, but I’ve also included how there was an incident that at one time felt like it was over for me.
──It’s the part, “Am I heading toward destruction? That world, I ended it”, right? What were your feelings when you wrote that?
DAISHI： I was embarrassed. (laughs)
──But you thought you’d write it anyway?
DAISHI： It’s exactly because we’re in this kind of cosplay, or virtual band, that I can speak frankly, isn’t it? When I write lyrics as myself, I feel a lot of the combination of virtual and reality. So it’s exactly because we’re a virtual band that I want to cherish reality.
──But since this time it was about that incident, it seems that writing about reality wouldn’t be so easy.
DAISHI： It’s embarrassing. After all, I think it’s understood that this is about the incident, if you don’t have terrible perception. (laughs)
──That’s right. What did the members say when they saw the lyrics?
DAISHI： It’s embarrassing for them too so they didn’t say anything. (laughs)
──But they understood?
DAISHI： Yep. It was such a harsh time for me, and Lida-kun wrote lyrics like “you’re just the one to blame” about me. If you notice it, our band has a lot of lyrics like “you’re completely to blame.”
──But people make mistakes don’t they?
DAISHI： Aah! Are we going to get into that talk?! (laughs)
──Everyone makes mistakes, so I think it’s important to forgive. Nevertheless, in this country I think it’s intolerable for a person to make even a single mistake.
DAISHI： But, for me personally, I really really regret that I troubled everyone. It’s really painful that I troubled the other members, the fans, and the staff… Because after all, this is everyone’s livelihood. And I think that painful time also gave me valuable experiences as a person. I think if I didn’t have any friends at that time I would have made the same mistake again. My disposition has changed. About people, about everything.
──Does that change also appear in your expression?
DAISHI： I think it does. I think with that influence I’m becoming a good-for-nothing vocalist. Because honestly, the person I was before has been touchy. (laughs)
DAISHI： I was 27 years old when that incident happened, and 13 years have passed since then, and my feelings aren’t so solemn but nevertheless they don’t readily disappear. But for the members the time went quickly and they let me come back to the band. I think I’ve been blessed to have these great members who are really like family to me. I think the only reason Psycho le Cému can be victorious over other bands is because of the friendship between the members. We’re a close band, you won’t see anything other than that. You’ll often hear things like “GLAY are close with each other,” but we don’t want to be defeated by them. (laughs)
──Do you even eat with the members in private?
DAISHI： We go eat all the time. (laughs) And we have birthday parties. And once a year, everyone gets together for a barbecue. And we’ve done that since the incident, too.
──As you’d expect, everyone overcame the difficult thing together.
DAISHI： That’s right. But for me personally, I feel like “I’ve finally overcome it.” Since we were together for so many years, we know each others’ dispositions well. Lida-kun and I have been together since nursery school anyway, you know? But on the contrary I can’t say I’ll go out to drink with just Lida, without having the other members to mediate. (laughs) We keep company for so long that it’s embarrassing, when it’s just the two of us.
──Well, next year is your 20th anniversary, so do you have big plans?
DAISHI： We have various plans to make current Psycho le Cému even bigger. I feel like I’m challenging myself with “How can I keep Psycho le Cému going without causing an incident?”
──To speak tangibly, is your fan count increasing?
DAISHI： We might be starting to increase places where they’ll come see us. But that’s not to say that only the amount of lives increase. Recently, since people other than fans have started to get the chance to come see us, I want us to do our best there too. During this time we had a three-man tour with Waive and MUCC called “MUD FRIENDS 2000〜2018” and I thought we were received well by people who weren’t our fans.
──I see. But, since Psycho le Cému ranked in the American magazine “NEWS WEEK” as among the “100 most respected Japanese people in the world”, you’re surpassing the framework of domestic Visual Kei, and I think you’ll be turning your activities toward the rest of the world.
DAISHI： Because there were a lot of guests to receive Psycho le Cému in America, I thought, “Even though we can’t entertain Japanese fans and the fans in front of us, entertaining people overseas will be difficult”. People always come to see our lives at the livehouses, and they’ll feel like “I want to go again” and I think things like that are extremely important. Of course everything after that point is important too, but if people call out from overseas… the truth is even now they call for us, but I want to go overseas after we properly take form in Japan.
──But I think you’d have to leave Asia and go to places like America and Europe before you could take ideas from someone else in the world.
DAISHI： When we went to “Japan Expo” in France, there were honestly times when I thought “Ahhh, this is earlier than in Japan.” (laughs) Places like America and France are particularly interesting, aren’t they? Because Gene Simmons of KISS asked us, “Let’s get a picture together.” Moreover, Gene Simmons put up that photo on his Facebook and Twitter, naming us as a band he likes.
──Because you’re a “most respected Japanese person” right?
DAISHI： Because we were directly below Natsume Souseki in NEWS WEEK’s ranking. (laughs) That aside, I want us to become like DA PUMP now. (laughs)
The original interview Pt 1 was posted here on Barks’ website.
Interview Pt 2 is here.