Translated by Erin Grace
--You include a huge number of famous songs, but there’s still a lot of variety in this album.
Tetsuya: That’s precisely what I was going for. The people who’ve listened to it say that it’s a great album with nothing for them to get tired of. I was trying to present a variety of my work.
--When did you come up with the concept for this album?
T: About a year ago. It was around the same time was I was re-branding my name to “TETSUYA.” It was only completed a few mornings ago. To be honest, that day was the death anniversary of someone who was important to my name change. That coincidence felt a little like fate. So this is an album that faces the future, and that conveys a sense of pride.
--It has ups and downs, it has flow, and it’s cinematic.
T: I heard that from the people who were around for the last half of recording, too. They said that the songs seem to have the 4 elements universal to a Disney movie; the 4 elements that have to make an appearance. The first is “love.” That includes lovers, family, and other meanings of the word. Second is “life,” the act of living. That includes “nature.” The third is “death.” This is mourning over a deceased person, or the fear of death. And finally, the fourth is “war,” which Japanese people don’t understand very well. A war to recover something that was lost, or a war to protect the people you love. People told me that this album has all four of those elements.
--When did you decide on the title “COME ON!”?
T: Late spring. The words “COME ON” just suddenly came into my head from nowhere. It was like they just fell out of the sky. I thought, “’COME ON’… That would make a good album title…” Right after that, while I was in the car, I heard that line from “Please Please Me” by The Beatles: “Come on, come on, Come on, come on,” and I thought, “That decides it! ‘COME ON!’ will be my album title! It’s a sign!” That’s when I made the decision.
--And the words “COME ON!” perfectly suit the album.
T: It makes me happy that it has this attitude of facing the future. Like you’re leaning into the future, right? Like when you’re racing down the first drop of a roller coaster, no matter how scared you are you lean in for it. But by doing that, it’s even more scary. Instead, I wanted there to be a feeling like “YEAH!” Like rushing forward without fear. When you run from something you’re afraid of or don’t like, it becomes even scarier. If instead you turn to face it and say, “Yeah! Come on!” it’s not as scary anymore. Of course, it’s always nerve-racking to face down something like that. But if you dive into it, you’ll be able to have new experiences. That’s the meaning I wanted to convey with the title “COME ON!”
--This album certainly seems like it opened some new life experiences for you. It’s also rich with your vocal expressiveness.
T: I have a lot of experience with tours. But singing is another matter. But even when I listen objectively, the singing is pretty good. My voice trainer has also raved about me, saying that my voice is in good condition and projects well. When I listen to what I recorded before, my vocals are a little weak. Also, before I recorded in earnest, I really wanted to go on tour. I planned to record three singles, then go on tour. After the tour, I’d record the remaining songs for the albums. I really wanted my first tour to be right. I wrote “Are you ready to ride?” just for the tour, which is something I hadn’t done before. On the other hand, there are also songs that I wrote after the tour.
--Which songs are those?
T: “Fantastic Wonders” is one of them.
--There are a lot of songs that are famous even apart from their singles, like “Roulette,” “LOOKING FOR LIGHT,” and “lonely girl.” Nevertheless, there’s a great breadth of variety on the album as whole. It unfolds in surprising ways - for example, after “EDEN,” a hard song, there’s the straight-played love song “Mahou no Kotoba.”
T: It’s my tendency to run either hot or cold, to go one way or the other. (laugh) Putting “Mahou no Kotoba” right after “EDEN.” (laugh)
--The lyrics also have depth. Did they take a long time to write?
T: No, not really. I was able to write the lyrics really fast this time. I wrote a lot of them in the control room of the recording studio while other songs were being proofed. After 4 or 5 hours, I’d be like, “Another song written!” (laugh) Even I was surprised about how I was able to write lyrics anywhere.
--Why were you writing the lyrics so fast?
T: I think I was sort of waking up. (laugh) But fine-tuning the lyrics took a lot of time. I looked at them at all different times, thinking about whether they were right. They way I felt about them in the middle of the night was different from how I felt when I looked at them in the morning. So I edited and edited, and finally they were done. So 80 or 90% I can get done pretty fast, but that 10 or 20% where I put on the finish touches take a lot longer. I also make tweaks right before recording.
--It certainly gives the impression of being a polished piece of work.
T: There’s no part of any song where I held back, and there are even songs that I did over two or three times until they were right. I re-did the mastering 3 times. So every song was tough, and every song is dear to me.
--You’re guitar playing is also impressive. It’s like an extension of the lyrics.
T: My guitar playing appears in every song, but I had plenty of confidence for the solos. (laugh) Are they not normal riffs? I was thinking that I wanted to create riffs that would leave an impression, that you can hum [when they get stuck in your head].
--The intro and outro of the final song, “Nagareboshi,” are also great. The song itself is famous, and leaves a deep, lingering feeling.
T: I’ve had a first draft of that song for 10 years. But the timing wasn’t right for a release, and I was always pushing it back. But when I first began working on this album, I decided to include it as the final song.
--When did you write the lyrics?
T: Rather recently. More than telling a story, I wanted people to hear it. I didn’t really do well with the words. I think that I expected that if people heard it, they’d understand my feelings. I wrote this song thinking about the people that are important to me. But I didn’t just write it for them, I was hoping that everyone who listened to it would be able to empathize. I think it’s applicable to anyone. I have people that I love, and the people who listen to this song will of course have people that they love, too. I want people to listen to “Nagareboshi” and think of the people that they care about.
--This is an album that gives energy to the people that listen to it.
T: I want it to speak to every single person. Although this is essentially just the solo album of L’Arc~en~Ciel’s bassist, I want to clear away people’s preconceived notions about it, and have them listen to it just one time. It really is packed with good songs. That’s what I think. On the other hand, I think that even people who know nothing about me could be captured by it.