Translated by Erin Grace
“A full album all of new songs was a pretty big thing.” (Takahashi)
--Last year you released a mini album, “Awa Come.” Did recording it feel different from recording a full-length album?
Fukuoka: It did. To begin with, with the big theme of “Awa Come” was that it was recorded in Tokushima [the band’s hometown], so this album was different from that. Before now we would release an album of our previous singles until we reached the end of them, but this time it was different. We didn’t release any singles, and we just thought “This is the concept we want for the album” and then made it, so it’s very special to us.
Hashimoto: But I feel like they were somewhat connected. Although they were recorded in totally different places, we started working on this album, “YOU MORE,” when “Awa Come” went on sale. So the feeling of this album is close to that of “Awa Come,” and the impression of “Awa Come” is of having fun recording in Tokushima, and although the image of this album isn’t the same, they seem to be close to one another.
F: For the people who were watching the sequence of our activities last year, I think this album is pretty easy to comprehend. We released our B-side collection (“Hyoujou <Coupling Collection>”) after our American tour, and after the B-side tour we recorded “Awa Come” in Tokushima. I think the people who saw all that could easily see the path to this album.
Takahashi: Something was different about this album, and I think it was that we didn’t release a single first. That was the challenge we set our minds to as a band. Until now we tended to release about four singles before releasing an album, but we didn’t really think about releasing something similar to the B-sides after that tour. So we released the mini album immediately after, without releasing any singles, and then we released a full album. We discussed this with the staff as well. A full album all of new songs was a pretty big thing for us.
--The two years between “Kokuhaku” and “YOU MORE” seems to have been sprinkled with assertive, if irregular, activities from the band. What was this period of time like for you?
F: Although the things we did were irregular, we came to see them as being like elements in a story. Until “Kokuhaku” it was like we were floating down an immeasurably huge river. We took the helm, and we could have changed course, but we felt like “This is the river, and this is where it’s going.” We weren’t really thinking about it too hard, and we kept going right down the middle. But we used up all our energy, and by the time we noticed, there wasn’t anything left... So we took a break.
F: But after that break all of our activity looked irregular, when in reality we were working on completing projects that each of us wanted to do, which was really closely tied to our self-confidence. To that end we used all of our energy, and we had faith in our staff, and more than that we’d come up with some interesting ideas. We were really happy that we’d be able to keep these ideas around for later use.
H: Ever since our debut we moved without stopping, so resting for the first time... I thought we should do it more often. Naturally, we thought of taking a break all at the same time. From there, we started feeling it was important to focus on ourselves. After “Kokuhaku” was done, we realized that it would be easy for us to ask someone to do something for us. I hadn’t realized that I could tell the other band members “I want to do this kind of thing” or “Let’s work on that sort of thing next.” And they asked me when I wanted to start working on my ideas. So we naturally thought of a lot of stuff during that time.
T: Also, we were able to add a second disc of just acoustic versions to our B-side collection, and that was also really big for us. We’re a rock band, so the acoustic disc is something we wouldn’t normally do.
--Since the beginning, it seems that you’ve been burdened by the preconceptions associated with being a rock band.
T: There was a lot of that. And there was a hard line there. But the staff said they thought it would be interesting if we tried the acoustic disc, and we said we’d try it, and when we finished the staff said that it was good. (laugh) That’s where the change came from, and we were freed by it all at once.
“In the end, our idea of fun is the sound bursting out.” (Fukuoka)
--It wasn’t just that you did something concrete, but that you were able to do it freely and carefully.
F: Yes. We really watched our step. (laugh)
-- (laugh) And “YOU MORE” was conceived of before you started watching your step, so how did it feel to start?
F: First of all, we wanted to make a “fun” album, which we adopted as our concept. We hadn’t even developed a concept for an album before this, but there had been times that we wanted to. Now, our idea of a “fun” song... Well, for us, “fun” means a lot of songs with interesting arrangements.
--It seems like it would be important to have notes for that.
F: It was. In the end, our idea of “fun” is the sound bursting out, and songs that come up to a huge climax when you perform them. So we thought “That’s exactly how we want the sound to be,” like we’re putting everything we can into the song in real time. This is already huge because we can’t do that with a single, and we also worked hard on the recording so that the album is loaded with the sound that we wanted to portray.
T: It has fun arrangements. Before now only one or two songs out of an album would have a fun arrangement, but this time we wanted to emblazon that on the face of the album. We’ve always liked erratic arrangements, but this time we broke away from that. Making it was a ton of fun. So for us the image of “YOU MORE” is “fun” and “bright.”
--You say “fun” and “bright,” but it must have taken a lot of work to get the knack of that sound.
T: We picked it up pretty fast, and it felt like we grew as a band. Doing “cool stuff” has been our major premise since we forming the band.
F: I think that basic point is where the fun really is. On top of that, we did more of what we thought would be fun. It’s like imagining a real performance. We didn’t want to do performances that would be lame or that, even if they were interesting, would prove impossible. So instead we just had fun with this album. As we wrote the songs, we’d think “When we do this live, the fans will be so surprised!” and “Isn’t this awesome?” It was like what you’d expect from a rock band. (laugh) We’d write songs for the band, and we’d write in things that reflected the atmosphere we were working in.
H: Although we had fun with the power of the sound, we connected with this album. We also tried our hands at self-producing, and we realized that we could record music immediately by doing that. It was our first time doing that, too.
--This was the first time you had a concept for an album; did you have a “blueprint?”
H: No. Although we had many more interesting songs than before, we decided to stick with the simple concept rather than try to take it too far. I think we hit the nail on the head.
--While had fun with the sound, the album was also perfectly realistic. Also, even with this CD cover, I still want to listen to it...
“This is an album where we did a lot that we don’t usually do” (Hashimoto)
F: For that, the staff were good enough to offer some proposals, but when we saw this image we thought it was great. Of course, it’s a kissing scene, and it doesn’t exactly suggest something unhappy, but you can’t quite pinpoint where the happiness is. We’ve stopped the “face series” for our albums, and we thought it would be surprise for this to be the next cover. (laugh) But, to be honest, the original image isn’t a kissing scene. A boy is leaning against a wall, and a girl a sucking blood from him. The girl is actually a mosquito.
F: A blood-sucking mosquito. She has wings and six limbs.
F: (laugh) Minchi, the illustrator that drew this picture, is good at conveying the scary parts of women like that, and he draws interesting things like this where the boy has fallen into her lair and she sucks the nectar of passion out of him. We changed the picture so that the girl’s mouth would be close to the boy’s mouth, and since it got to be a much smaller picture we cropped and enlarged it, purposefully making it a little risque. It’s a surprising and surreal image.
--And with the title “YOU MORE”... It’s a “bright” album when you listen to it, and the very beginning this is certainly...
F: Well, it’s a pun. (laugh) [“YOU MORE” is pronounced the same way as “humor” in Japanese.]
--(laugh) And when you listen to sound of this album, you can feel the Chatmonchy-esque “humor” everywhere, but with the CD cover you get a strong sense of the English meaning “more of you”...
F: Exactly. When you take the CD cover together with the rest of the album it adds up to that image, and I think that image is in the individual songs as well.
--And taken as a complete package, I think the album is a great piece of work.
F: Thank you. (laugh)
--How do you want listeners to react to this album?
T: This is an album that we created without inhibition, so I want them to listen without inhibition. There aren’t any singles, and I want people to like the songs and make this album their own.
F: All the songs lead into one another pretty evenly without any introduction to speak of, so I want the listeners to react as though they’ve only just heard it. We say it’s a fun album, but we don’t know what they think about it. (laugh) But we were able to make an album that we had a lot of fun with, so I think it would be nice for people to listen to it with that in mind.
H: This is an album where we did a lot that we don’t usually do... It’s an album where we changed a lot: there aren’t any singles, we didn’t do the “face series” for the cover, the album title is in English. And since we changed those things and we think that the changes are good, I’d like people to notice them.