--This album is being released with four different CD jackets.
Nishikawa: Well, let’s start with how I felt about making the 18-song album [First-Press Limited Edition B]. Once again I worked hard to convey the music, and I didn’t just throw away the single tracks, but instead included those songs; I looked them over and read between the lines when I tied them into the album. In contrast, [First-Press Limited Edition A] has 12 tracks of music that I released a long time ago or that met with critical reception. Limited Edition A also has music videos and making-of videos. The other two jackets are different from one another, but the songs on them are the same as the songs on Disc 1 of Limited Edition A.
--Was there anything that you realized while working with the songs that were released 6 years ago?
N: Well, honestly, I realized that 6 years is how long it takes a child to graduate from elementary school. (laugh) I also thought about all the time that’s gone by, and how much the industry is changing. Based on those things, I thought that I had to think about the music itself. But in the end, I stopped doing that. (laugh)
N: Yeah. I thought that I wanted to convey a message like “This is T.M.R.” I re-listened to what I’d created up till that time, and then decided that I wanted to convey how I’d come to be where I am now, and what things will never change. And there were the 6 year-old songs. (laugh) And songs that I couldn’t remember when I’d written them. But I realized that it’s fine to represent T.M.R. with those songs.
--The moment you heard it, you understood that the music expressed you. Furthermore, all the songs on the albums draw a strong response from the listener. Was this difficult to achieve?
N: It was. At first, the albums were too full, so I announced that they were going to be released without announcing what was going to be on them. I felt that I could get together 12 tracks plus bonus tracks, but that wasn’t the plan from the beginning, and I thought that I should give 18 tracks where I could. In the end I didn’t get rid of bonus tracks, and with persistence I was able to create a core album as I’d wanted to from the beginning.
--The album itself feels like a story revealing a dizzying world.
N: Thank you. I think the image of T.M.R. now is of speed and strength. Especially with the singles, there are a lot of tie-ins. But T.M.R. isn’t just about strength; T.M.R. can express indecisiveness, trivial incidents, emotional subtleties. From now on, I have to start expressing these kinds of things in my melodies and lyrics. The image of my recent singles is strong, and there’s a tendency toward vigorous music. Once again, I went back to the usual image of T.M.R at first. My previous album, “vertical infinity,” was an experimental album, and I took substantial orchestral work that my fans are already familiar and reinterpreted those elements. It was like water and oil. Since this is my 9th album, there was a very “yin and yang” image to it, which is expressed as a circle. I feel that, since “SEVENTH HEAVEN,” albums seven, eight, and nine are all tied together. The phrases “seventh heaven” and “cloud nine” are very similar to one another. “Cloud nine” expresses a soul in the highest level of heaven, the ninth. So looking at the various parts of the two albums, you can see a casual relationship between them.
--“Seventh Heaven” and “Cloud Nine” both have the meaning of a good state of being, or a state of arousal, correct?
N: That’s right, they express a time of supreme bliss.
--It has a feeling as though things are achieving clarity right before your eyes.
N: That’s right. During those six years, you can see a lot by looking at the breadth of my activities: the solos, band, stage sets, drums, and how I straddled all those activities. I did it all; I wanted to have a band as well as to do solos, I wanted to sing naturally while photos were being taken of the stage set or of the drums. It was difficult to achieve. I thought that I had to do things that way, and when I did them that way they were distorted. Right now there’s a lot I want to do with T.M.R. I want to put out my album, and want people to think that I’m successful. I think that if I can have that, it’ll boost my confidence as an artist.
--The association between your confidence and the quality of your work is something that’s in all of your music, and there’s a good balance there. The first half of the album has a lot of aggressive songs, but the last half has all different kinds of songs. “Reload” is your most interesting song yet.
N: That’s the only song on the album that was arranged by someone else. The guitarist from a.b.s., Shibasaki Hiroshi, did it for me. At the beginning he just played guitar, but I wanted a little more somehow. He played his characteristic lyrical arpeggio, and it was better. He played more of that, and it was awesome. Really awesome. It had a good sound.
--As you said, you changed up the face and the color of your work, and moved it to reflect the true feelings of T.M.R. Did you feel that your 15th anniversary was important?
N: Surprisingly, yes. (laugh) This will be the first time I’ve done a tour in a long time, and every place I go, no matter what I see on the audience’s faces, I’ll see them and get very excited.
--It’s a long tour. What are you doing with it?
N: This time I won’t be able to get everything done, but I’m thinking of basing the worldview and production on “SEVENTH HEAVEN” and “vertical infinity.” Especially the worldview of “vertical infinity.” Since it’s a hall tour, I want to project the image of throwing myself into it full-boar more than anything. (laugh) There’s the music and the stage, and I want my feelings to merge with those of the fans who’ve come to the live. Although the hall tour is different from my Sanrio 15th anniversary event on May 13th, I really want this tour to embrace the album.