As the end of the year draws closer and closer I can safely say that Arutokoronii no teiri (アルトコロニーの定理), the 5th album by Japanese rock band RADWIMPS, is already among my favourite albums released in 2009. I’ve been meaning to translate a “7 Keywords” feature they did as part of the promotions for the new album (released on March 11) in the Japanese music magazine B-PASS (4/2009) ever since I got it, but alas have only found the time to do it this week. Name-dropping Foals and Radiohead is probably the safest way to get me to translate something ^^;
Just a short bit of information about the band:
RADWIMPS are Noda Youjirou (vocals & guitar), Kuwahara Akira (guitar), Takeda Yuusuke (bass) and Yamaguchi Satoshi (drums), all born in 1985. They debuted in 2003.
And on to the translation of the B-PASS interview. Please see the credits at the end of this entry before posting this translation anywhere else!
[Translator’s notes look like this.]
7 Keywords in search of RADWIMPS
We set out to analyze (!?) RADWIMPS for everyone who wants to know more about RAD and, of course, their album with the help of seven keywords.
The origin of the album title
Noda: I like mathematics but I’ve never really believed in “theorems” or “propositions” [Japanese: teiri]. It’s just that in my opinion this album can become a kind of “solution” when you’re confronted with problems and doubts in your life.
“Alt” [Japanese: aruto] is a term which refers to a register. It’s pretty high for a man and totally fits the songs we recorded.
The term “colony” [Japanese: koronii] expresses our wish to create a collective with this album.
And it’s also a pun on “in a land far, far away” [Japanese: aru tokoro ni]. *laughs* We have some fairy tale-inspired songs, like track 8 on the album which is called Meruhen to Gureeteru [Märchen to Gretel, English: Fairy Tales and Gretel] too, so we thought we just had to give the album that title.
The design concept of the album cover [click here for a close-up]
Yamaguchi: I think the cover image represents what we are as a band quite nicely in the sense that it maintains its balance even though it looks like it’s out of balance and it becomes one whole being the second its respective components are put together with a certain intention. The character on the cover looks a lot like Youjirou because it’s wearing a hat, so it was exactly the right thing for us and we instantly chose it to be on the cover. According to Nagato Tetsuya, the collage artist who let us select one of his works, the character’s name is “Jack” [Japanese: Jakku] because we used it as the album cover [jaketto (jacket) in Japanese]. *laughs*
Your lucky number
Yamaguchi: 4. It has that sort of round-ish image like a “circle” in my head and it gives off a certain “sense of solution” which I find really nice. But that’s just the image I have of it. *laughs*
Noda: It’s probably 7 for me, just like you’d expect. I have a certain affinity for the number 7, so much so that I even wanted to call this album “7”. I’ve always liked numbers but the number 7 had that image of “it’s a bit of trouble but a good one after all”.
Takeda: For me, it’s got to be the number 3. Every time I want to buy something, let’s say juice, I buy three bottles of it. It’s the same for cup ramen. It just makes me feel at ease if I have three of them. *laughs*
Kuwahara: It’s the number 2 for me. Simply put, I just think that two people is better than one person alone. If you want to go shopping it’s so much easier to walk around when it’s just two people instead of three. And if you want to talk about something serious with someone, I really like it when there’s just me and one other person talking face to face.
What you were into during the recording of the album
Yamaguchi: We all drank Dekavita [a vitamin softdrink] when we were exhausted. I also wrote about it in our blog but let me just repeat that it really worked and gave us new energy. We drank so much that I’m now asking myself “Wouldn’t it be cool if they finally let us appear in a commercial for it?” *laughs*
Noda: Probably sleeping. They had pillows and blankets prepared for us in the studio so I used to lay down and sleep for a bit. But of course every time I flopped down and thought “Ah, I can finally fall asleep”, someone came calling for me. *laughs*
I always find it very hard to fall asleep to begin with, plus when we’re in the studio recording an album I’m totally excited all the time so it was pretty hard for me.
Takeda: I was very fond of alcohol. *laughs* During recording breaks I often went for drinks all by myself. I also liked to buy cheap whiskey at the convenience store and drink it mixed with cola.
Kuwahara: For me, it was meeting friends. We were classmates in middle school and they don’t have anything to do with music nowadays. We went to family restaurants and bars and stuff and just chatting to them always made me feel relaxed, more so than anything else.
A few words to your fellow band mates
Yamaguchi: I have to say “The restaurant you took me to yesterday had the best take-out food I’ve ever had!” to Kuwahara. *laughs* Every once in a while we go out and have dinner together. He’s the type of person who likes to check out everything before he finally decides for something. Me and Takeda on the other hand are the kind of person to make quick decisions so we demonstrate our leadership when it comes to food. *laughs*
Noda: I want to say “Thanks” to [Yamaguchi] Satoshi. He’s sent me emails pretty often during the recording of the album. The other two haven’t sent me any messages at all, though. *laughs* I recorded my vocal takes alone in the studio, so Satoshi messaged me with his impressions. In a way, the band members are my first audience to me, so it makes me really happy when I receive criticism in the form of simple words.
Takeda: I’m going to talk about an email message too now. On the very last day of recording, Youjirou sent all of us a message that read “I’m so glad that we made this as the band we are” which made me extremely happy. So I’m just going to use this opportunity to say thanks, too.
Kuwahara: There’s this huge wardrobe in Youjirou’s apartment which we bought at IKEA and which all four of us assembled. And I paid for it. Won’t you pay me back soon? *laughs*
An impressive concert you went to recently
Yamaguchi: I went to see Foals. Well, it wasn’t all that recently, rather in May last year. I saw them at Ebisu Liquidroom. It had been a while since I last went there. And it had also been quite some time since my last concert at a live venue. The way they put together their sound is pretty close to what we sound like. I bought their CD as well. We’re also pretty close as far as age is concerned so there are things about them that I find quite impressive. They’re really cool.
Noda: I saw Radiohead at an extra tour date at Tokyo International Forum. I fought my way through to the fifth row from the front and I think we made eye contact a couple of times. But everyone thinks that, don’t they. *laughs* They’re only humans so of course the band made some mistakes but that couldn’t spoil their fun and they were so into the music, which was great to watch. It made me realize that I want the people who create something as interesting as Radiohead to receive a lot of praise in the Japanese music scene, too.
Takeda: Bread&Butter. I was able to watch them from their rehearsal on. They are all such talented and influential musicians so everyone did their job very efficiently. When they were playing, everyone had a lot freedom but at the same time they were a very tight ensemble which I found very inspiring.
Kuwahara: I saw 9mm Parabellum Bullet last November. They were even cooler than on CD.
A challenge you want to face in 2009
Yamaguchi: Cooking. I already like cooking quite a bit but I want to do it more often. I’m really concerned about current issues and I think that I haven’t had enough of the awareness of “appreciating things” up until now. Bearing that in mind, I want to get to know a lot more about what we call “food”. I love tanmen [Chinese noodle soup] and I want to cook the most delicious food in the world. *laughs*
Noda: I just want to do something exciting, like every year. On the one hand, this includes music because we made this album and a lot of doors have opened for us. This might sound a little abstract but I don’t like carefully planned, preestablished harmony to begin with so I think I just want to try and do exciting things.
Takeda: I want to build a musical instrument. I had the idea before but didn’t really know how to do it and lacked quite a bit of determination. I don’t think I can go as far as chopping the wood myself, though. *laughs* I just want to try to collect all the necessary parts and assemble a bass. I think that when I say it now I’m definitely going to do it, so here is my announcement!
Kuwahara: I’ll just talk about my life as a musician now, but I really want to do a Battle of the Bands tour. I’m only friends with 9mm at the moment *laughs* and that way I’d be able to hang out with a whole lot of other bands too.
Translation credits: Yuuya @ coinlockerbaby.org.
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