Shou: Are you saying, when we get into a fight or something like that? We’re completely fine with each other.
Tora: There’s no reason to be in a fight.
Shou: A few moments ago, we were even talking about going out for drinks today after this interview is over. (Everyone laughs)
Tora: Our mood is like a bunch of students’.
Shou: Because the conversations that happened between us in the dressing room and other places up this moment were still in junior high school level.
Although the relationship between the members hasn’t changed, I think that the band’s sound has gone through lots of changes after all these years. In particular, [GEMINI] and [“9”], the productions that have set up a solid basis for Alice Nine as a “rock band”. If those albums were never made, I wonder if you would manage to create the fashionable and refreshing sound that this single, [Daybreak], was full of.
Shou: Thanks to Saga, who had exerted himself as the main composer ever since [VANDALIZE], the members’ sense of music expanded. Up to that moment, I suppose I have always thought that we were a band, but for the 5 of us to face forward with the believe that we’re a “rock band” in its true meeaning, we hardened our consciousness by creating [GEMINI] and [“9”]. Furthermore, I think we had become accustomed to being one in a higher level. If we have never made those records, I don’t think we would be able to possess this confidence and to put forth something that has such power like [Daybreak].
Saga: In our case, although we’ve solidified our visual appearance and our course of activities, there were also times when we pushed ahead without having the essential foundation that a band was supposed to have in terms of music. We started out as a session band, and once we went through that phase, without knowing what kind of music standard this band would have, we went on and created songs. So, in each single, each person had a different comprehension of Alice Nine’s image. Once we laid down our foundation and the singles changed one by one, no matter what kind of song we created, it felt like, “This is the kind of sound we can make at the moment”. That’s why, in terms of the band’s foundation, with the thought of wanting to build a band with a firm footing, we gradually forged ourselves starting from around [VANDALIZE].
Do you mean that this premonition was clear in your mind?
Saga: To put it simply, I thought we’d aim to become an awesome band, just like the bands that influenced us.
Shou: When are you planning to reach that goal?
All members: “Now, right!!” (all bursts into laughter)
To give you an example, this time we’re eating Genovese in a rather fashionable Italian restaurant. And next, it’s a gaudy tonkotsu ramen restaurant.
Saga: [Daybreak] was created on top of the band’s foundation, but if we had come out with this song without a foundation, it would have sounded different. [Daybreak] is a poppish, catchy track, but since we’ve established our foundation as a rock band, I think it came out as a cool song. Since we’ve created the basis of a rock band, and because we were at the end of [“9”], I think we should add new colors from now on.
So, [Daybreak] is the first step in the production with these new colors attached.
Saga: That’s right. The title itself has the meaning of “Dawn”.
Shou: There were around 10 songs to pick from back then, but everyone from the producer, staff, and members agreed to work on this song. Personally I think that in the opening feel in the hook’s melody should be the main point of the positive feeling. The original song was a bit more punk-ish, wasn’t it?
Tora: That’s right.
Shou: The arrangement changed 180°.
You applied some elaborate audio in the process, in a rather UK-taste.
Hiroto: This time Hiraide (Satoru)-san acted as the producer. Together, we managed to work on something with incredible depth. As a result, we have this sound. The level of this song’s arrangement felt really creative, right?
Shou: The way the producer did everything all the way to the track-down, I think we need to thank Hiraide-san for the sensitivity that runs through every nook of the sound.
Saga: That’s why, down to the final form of the sound’s image, we went to work while keeping in mind the gap that we could find between each sound.
Nao: Hiraide-san was a drummer himself, so my work was pretty hard. He kept an eye on me until the final stage, and in addition, he also did his own tuning on the drums during recording.
And the result is this cool audio that is finely calculated to the last detail, and then on top of that, Shou-san’s singing gave it a hot contrast. The lyrics touched me deeply.
Shou: Up to this point, there has been a pressure to write particularly good lyrics for the singles, so I read lots of books and watched lots of movies, and then took notes from them. When I listened to the sound of this song, I thought that I had no choice but to face my inner self, so I couldn’t use only the words that were already there in my head. If I can’t do this then I have no talent. There was power in this song that made me able to write lyrics that possess such graciousness. As a result, it turned into a song that does not only depict the members of Alice Nine, but also describes our current situation.
The music video is also in a scale beyond everything you’ve done up until now. Your thoughts about that greatly powerful video?
Shou: It was shot in a desert-like place in Shizuoka. We went just before dawn.
Tora: The set was absolutely not made-up.
Shou: We shot the video in below freezing temperature, -5°, with the wind blowing violently, and we were only wearing spring clothes.
Hiroto: But you can’t see how it really was from the video.
Shou: Knowing that, I think people who see Saga during the last part where everyone was walking together would notice and say, “Ah… I understand.” (lol)
Saga: In my heart I was like, “… I give up… this is impossible.” I had zero willpower.
Shou: He kept saying over and over again, “Why did you give it ‘Daybreak’ as a title” (lol).
Next, please tell us a bit about the coupling song, [Himitsu]. This is kind of like Alice’s style of hiphop. It is more than anything a stylish song.
Saga: Even though we’ve been thoroughly talking about our foundation as a rock band up to this point, this time we strayed far away from rock. It’s because I’ve been listening to nothing but clean songs with un-distorted guitar sounds (lol). This song was made with the mood of wanting to become a more stylish band. I wrote it also with the wish to see a new atmosphere in our live performance.
This hiphop-like orientation, I think it’s something really interesting.
Saga: Although, there’s no foundation of a band at all in this side.
Nao: It will take me 3 years to contribute to its reinforcement (lol).
What sort of Alice Nine will you deliver next month?
Shou: To give you an example, this time we’re eating Genovese in a rather fashionable Italian restaurant. And next, it’s a gaudy tonkotsu ramen restaurant!
Hiroto: Moreover it’s “Iekei” ramen restaurant.
Nao: The noodles are hardening.
In the morning when you wake up, you find that you suddenly have turned into Shou-san. What will you do?
Tora: If my face becomes like this… I’m going to a group date.
Saga: Without any hesitation, I’m going to pick up girls.
Nao: First of all, I’m going to go outside, and then I want to sing out loud with all my might among the pleasant weather.
Hiroto: I want to sing a song for someone!
What if you’ve turned into Hiroto-san?
Shou: I guess I want to play guitar for someone!
Tora: First of all, I’m going to a group date.
Saga: I’d like to try and make a move towards the girls who are fawning over Hiroto in front of him during a live.
Nao: I’m going to steal that guy’s precious little pet dog, Mogu.
If you’ve turned into Tora-san?
Shou: If I turn into Tora… group date?
Saga: Definitely a group date, right.
Nao: I’ll go back to sleep because I think it must be a dream. And then I’ll take a look inside my pants. (everyone bursts into roar of laughter)
Hiroto: Since he’s good at talking, I want to give that a try.
If you’ve turned into Saga-san?
Shou: Even though he wants to wear normal clothes, I’d like to dress Saga’s slender body with Western-styled ladies’ clothes.
Tora: If I turned into Saga, there are a number of things but… of course it’s group date! (lol)
Nao: First I’d like to check the balance in his bank account (lol).
Hiroto: I’d like to try to see forward with one eye closed. I think that, because Saga-kun’s nose is high, the world that he sees is different from what I see (lol).
If you’ve turned into Nao-san?
Shou: I can eat stuff that I myself can’t eat, like crab and lamb meat, I’m going to eat those foods and then tell you about the taste.
Tora: Group date? I don’t think Nao-san has the group date kind of feeling (lol). I think Nao-san can get deeply emotional, so first and foremost I’d like to find out Nao-san’s mode of life.
Saga: Nao-san is… his body is extremely sensitive! Because that’s not a part of myself, I’d like to do something to make the best use of it! (lol)
Hiroto: For sure, Nao-san’s sensitivity worries me (lol). Nao-san’s greatness that can’t be experienced even for a day… it’s impossible to answer that!!
As of now, we’re going to talk about the untold story of Alice Nine’s formation. Tora: There was another guitarist before Hiroto!!
Shou: It started with these guys (Nao and Saga) and these guys (Shou and Tora) gathering up to form a band.
Saga: In the beginning there were the 3 of us, and then we teamed up with these guys (Shou and Tora).
Shou: And then the 5 of us went into the studio, but…
Saga: Everyone felt somewhat uncomfortable. Toward that guitarist. The guy himself felt it. He must have read it in the atmosphere among us.
Tora: He said, “Why not me?”
Nao: And then he faded out on his own initiative.
And then from now on, we’re going to talk about the band’s name, Alice Nine, and its true origins.
Shou: All the members except Nao-san had a talk in a restaurant in Shinjuku to decide the band’s name. We couldn’t come up with any name that’s satisfactory. And then Saga-kun said something like, “Anita-san sounds nice”.
Saga: And then there’s KORN. Although there’s already a band named that.
Tora: We used the inverted R from KORN because I thought it was cool.
Saga: We were horrible, huh (wry smile).
Shou: There were a lot of theories as to how Alice Nine was chosen as the band’s name, but back then I was so into reading a novel by Nagano Mayumi-san titled “Shounen Alice”. And I also liked a fashion brand called NUMBER(N)INE. The other members that were present back then also thought that 9 was a cool, rock-ish number, so then we combined ‘Alice’ and ‘9’. We decided on it with a “what about using this for now?” kind of feeling. And to Nao-san who couldn’t attend the gathering back then, we gave him a notice to check this name that we had looked over on the net. I think until today, this is the first time I’ve ever talked about the origins of the band’s name.
Alice Nine - Blue Planet