The Air Moon, Final Chapter: Crescent, Part 2

This is the continuation and conclusion of the unpublished post-Jōgen no Tsuki interview started in the first part of this chapter.

For earlier portions, please see the Table of Contents.

—Getting back to this tour, what venue was the most memorable for you?
Osaka. Because before I even got up on stage, I felt how meaningful it was for me to be there. For me it was a huge vindication. Mr. Hirose, do you remember what I said to you back during the MARS ~Sora Kara no Hōmonsha~ tour, the first time we went to Osaka-jō Hall? “I’m gonna make the people who didn’t come wish they had. I’m gonna put on the ultimate show in a venue filled to bursting with people who want to see it.” Basically that. I had chosen Osaka-jō Hall to be a tour stop because I had wanted as many people as possible to see the show, but it was the sole venue that didn’t sell out. I decided that very day I would have a rematch. This time, tickets sold out the day they went on sale. I said to the dancers, to win on my terms, we have to reach every single person in the venue. That would be success to me. And everyone supported me. If I’d had to fight alone I still would’ve done it, but having people fighting at my side, fighting together, that made me so happy, I remember thinking what a wonderful thing it was. I’m very fortunate.

—Did it feel like you could safely ride the ship everyone had built?
Hm, how should I put it? Up until now, it felt like I was on a really big ship, but I had to hoist the sails, row, and take the helm myself; I had to do it all. But this time, it didn’t feel like I was rowing. Instead, while somebody else rowed, I would say, “To the right, to the left.” Or rather, it was more like the moment I thought to give a direction, the rowers were already doing what I wanted them to. So I could relax next to the person steering and just watch. Of course, I’m the one who knows where we’re going, what our destination is, so I was giving directions to get us there.

—The first time I saw the set, I found it large, but thought the simplicity actually put more pressure on you. Was that the case?
I didn’t feel that way, because I knew I could pull it off. I was absolutely sure I could do it. Before I even performed, I felt bad for the people who couldn’t come. No matter the reason they couldn’t come, I felt bad for them, and thought they should’ve come. I think this every time I do a tour, but my shows are once in a lifetime events. There’s no other show like it. I think you won’t find another show like mine even if you search the globe, because I’m the only one who can put on my show. I think it’s something that comes about only once because of the presence of myself and everyone related to Gackt Job. Imagine a person who likes music, who likes me, and who still thinks of me as a visual kei artist. If that person were to go to another visual kei show, I think the way that show would move them couldn’t possibly be the same as the way my show would move them. I can say that with confidence. You could go to another show and be moved by it, then go to yet another and be moved the same way, but I think the way you’d be moved at my show can only be felt at one of my shows. I think this is because our feelings for the stage, what we’re presenting, our emotions, how everything’s put together, and what we’re striving for, is different. It’s not about whether it’s good or bad, it’s because my show is unique that I felt bad for the people who couldn’t come see it. Because I’ll never put on the same show twice.

—So, what will the next show be like? For example, at your shows, with the exception of the piano solos, you use a sequencer; everything down to the space between songs is planned out.1 But sometimes I wonder, what if you got rid of all of that, and did a so-called “rock band style” show, the kind where ad libs work really well?
Hmm, I see.

—Come to think of it, you went to see L’arc~en~Ciel during the tour, didn’t you? What do you think about that style of show?
So many things came to mind as I watched that show. This type of show, because it’s this type of show, makes me think, “Bands are great.” It’s a space that allows for ad libbing. Another thing I thought about was, well, the day I went it was a great performance, it just seemed a little bit unsteady to me. The point is, I realized that of course you would have some unsteady days doing shows for seven days.2 It reinforced my belief that a tour is really hard to do if the members aren’t working together as one heart and soul. It’s an extremely tough space. So I think that, within those seven days, the people who went on the day I did were very fortunate. I think the energy they were sending out to us from the stage was the greatest, but performing in that style, you end up with unsteadiness—waves—as a matter of course. But those waves are meaningless to the audience, because it’s not like they can go every day. “Today” is all there is. That’s why I think, today I have to do this for all of the people.

—Certainly, your current live performance style was chosen based off of that philosophy. But you don’t know how it’ll be in the future.
What I was jealous of watching L’arc~en~Ciel was the incredible power they generated when their hearts united as a band. But because they’re human, there are times when their hearts aren’t united, right? At those times, I really wondered how unsteady they were. To us, being united is a prerequisite for going up on stage. We don’t go on if our hearts aren’t united. But there are some bands who don’t mind that, so they’ll go up onstage even when they aren’t united. That’s how the so-called “ad lib types” are, right? “I was a little off today, sorry.” Some might also say things like “Your drumming today pissed me off!” We don’t do things like that. I think it would be difficult for band types to choose the path we’ve taken. They wouldn’t want to do live shows this way. So many things need to be done that I don’t think they could stand it. That’s why I think our members, who are doing all those things, are incredible. I don’t hang out with other band folk much, so I don’t really know what kind of relationships they have, but I think our stage family is a wonderful family. On top of doing all the things we have to do, we perform while keeping in mind that our most important task is to “reach” the audience. I think that’s wonderful. …Aren’t rock bands slowly disappearing these days? There must be only a few people left working in bands. I can think of some reasons for that. One is that there are more band members who have come to think there’s no meaning to standing onstage. Another is that the relationships between members have gone bad, so they can no longer trust each other. Basically, they do things out of habit. On top of that, it’s no longer personally advantageous to stand onstage and express yourself.3 Because there are many things that are connected to habit and inertia.

—There are also problems with the industry as a whole, right?
Yeah, there’s that, too. But, bands are the most easily understood group type, don’t you think? When the members’ hearts are separated, their performance gets sloppy, and the people watching can tell what’s going on, so it doesn’t make for a good show. Maybe one member doesn’t like another, but if they can still recognize their skill, they can shine onstage. If you think, “I don’t like this guy, but he’s incredible,” then you feel like you can’t lose to them, so you put on a good show. But you’ll fall in a rut if you just think, “Eh, might as well just go with this guy.” I think the phrase “butt heads” is built upon both parties having the will to butt heads. When they charge, they know someone will be there to stop them, because they have a trusting relationship. So it’s not a bad thing. This is extremely important. If a group doesn’t have that, it falls apart. If you ask this of the average band, it’ll be tough for them. After all, it was hard for us when we would butt heads on our first tour. However, as we kept going, we came to understand that the kind of show we put on is the result of our relationship, therefore it wouldn’t come together if it weren’t for us. Knowing that, the difficulty disappeared. The point is, we’ve become able to butt heads in earnest now. But it took four years to get here, and we were able to do it because that was our goal from the start. If the average band suddenly tried to operate this way, it wouldn’t work. People can’t make such changes easily. I mean, just because we started out with this goal in mind, that doesn’t mean we didn’t have members and staff who left. If you, for example, commanded existing companies to butt heads, they wouldn’t be able to do it on the spot. This difference is the basis for my belief that we’re a unique group.

—So the ability to butt heads, for example, if Chachamaru isn’t doing too well, You is ready to back him up, has been developed to perfection.4 You’re all in a good position.
Yeah, probably. We have various problems, problems that we must solve, but I’d like for each of them to do some solo activities. Ultimately I want them to become capable enough to have their own solo tours. I think they’ll have that opportunity in the future. If it’s logical, I approve of everyone doing solo work. They could do it, then when we came back together, we could put on a huge show. I think that would be wonderful. I said this back when I was in a band too, but a band isn’t composed of five people becoming “one.” With a band, the equation 1+1+1+1 and so on has the potential to equal 300 or 400. Even though we’re not a band, I think there’s a point to what we’re doing. I demand of everyone things above and beyond what is demanded of a band, I demand they perform well enough to go solo. If not, I think we would be taken lightly when we expand into Asia. If I stand onstage but am not recognized as a representative of Asia, then that means I’m just some Japanese singer. If we want to become the face of Japan as Asians, then we have to have that high level of awareness.

—Lastly, please tell me what the future looks like for you.
Next year (2004) I want to give a big gift to those who have supported me up till now. I’d love to give the people who have always watched me through all these years something that lets them feel my history. I’ll announce it once I’m making it. I think at the same time we could do shows in Asia. Because I’m not a representative of Japan, I’m a representative of Asia. I plan to continue running as long as my body holds out. I’m not in the best of shape right now, you know. Maybe the fatigue from the tour is starting to show, but I think I’ll get used to it as I keep on running.

[End of interview. Chapter continued in Final Chapter, Part 3]

1. I’m not sure about the specifics of this line. The original Japanese said 「Gacktさんのライブはピアノ・ソロ以外は同期を使った、曲の尺が決まったものだけど、」. The word 同期 has music-specific and computing-specific meanings that most regular dictionaries apparently don’t currently include, so that was throwing me off. Still, I’m not sure if here it’s meant to be understood as “synchronization,” “synchronizer,” or “sequencer.” I went with sequencer because it seems to be the most logical choice in a music/performance context. There’s also the matter of 曲の尺; usually 尺 refers to a unit of measure of distance, not a measure of music. Even though there’s a traditional Japanese instrument, the 尺八 (shakuhachi)…but I digress. So I interpreted it as “space between songs” but I suppose it may also mean “song’s measure” in the sense of bars of the song. Whatever the case may be, overall I’m pretty sure that what Hirose is getting at is that Gackt shows are meticulously planned and arranged, in contrast to the usual “rock band” style of concert, which can be more spontaneous.

2. This refers to L’arc~en~Ciel’s Shibuya Seven Days concert event at Yoyogi Stadium. According to the Japanese Wikipedia article for the band, which gives a detailed list of concerts, there were seven performances over the course of nine days, from June 28th to July 6th, with no shows on June 30th and July 3rd. So at most, they had to do three days in a row (July 4th, 5th, and 6th).

3. What Gackt said was simply 表現する, which is just “express” not necessarily “express [oneself].” So I’m not really sure exactly what it is that is no longer advantageous to express. Original ideas? Unoriginal ideas? Pretending to be a vampire? Not knowing whether to put your hat on or not while you jazz hands? I don’t know.

4. What I’ve translated as “butt heads” here and in Gackt’s preceding answer was ぶつかる and ぶつかり合う in the original. This can mean to collide, physically or verbally. I’ve come across it before in The Air Moon and while I usually understand it from context as meaning something more like “heatedly discuss different opinions,” the way it’s used here makes me wonder if I’m missing something. Or rather, the way Hirose uses it doesn’t seem to follow the same pattern at all, as the example he gives is one of members supporting each other, not arguing or having a difference of opinion in any way.

3 thoughts on “The Air Moon, Final Chapter: Crescent, Part 2

  1. Pingback: The Air Moon, Final Chapter: Crescent, Part 1 | Warped Frost

  2. AL

    I just recently discovered this blog and can not thank you enough for taking the time to do these translations! It’s so heartwarming to see that G’s older work is still being discussed and appreciated! Thank you so much!

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