--Over a year after the release of your last album, “amp-reflection,” you’re finally releasing your new single, “RPG.”
Uchimura: It is. It’s been a year. (laugh)
--(laugh) You appeared in Summer Fest, after you completed your album tour last June. School Food Punishment (SFP) hasn’t had a lot of time in the limelight... What was it like?
U: A little before the tour... After we finished the album, we were spending a lot of time doing interviews, and we spent a lot of time thinking about what we wanted to do next. The year of our debut we were moving so fast that we went from one thing to the next without even time to take it in, so we wanted to make a fresh start of things. We thought about where we wanted to start from, but we of course wanted to finish the tour... And after the tour we had Summer Fest, so we figured we could start after that. So we spent a lot of time preparing for whatever was coming up next.
Hidai: It’s not that we never stopped doing work for the band - we weren’t writing songs while planning our next move - but instead we were constantly thinking about how we wanted the band to evolve.
--You released five singles and an album before you’d even completed the first year since your debut. Looking back on that time of extreme activity, how does it make you feel now?
U: It feels like we ran through those days as fast as we could, and because we did that we were able to get the album done. Because of that, it’s a very satisfying time; it feels good to have done it. But we also realized that we can’t work like that forever. We pushed through again and went above and beyond what we’d done before and were able to write music that we were even more excited about. More than that, we started fresh and were able to get all kinds of music ready. On that album [“amp-reflection”] we really exceeded our capacity for creating music. I don’t think that any of those song are just “stock” songs, we created and produced them day by day, and really had to think them over.
--What “strategy” did you have for it?
H: The number one things was the mobilize the power of not only the band members, but also that of the people around us. We wanted to expand the music beyond just ourselves.
U: It had the feeling of a project.
H: Yeah. We were sort of thinking, “What’s everything that we can do for SFP?” We band members know that we can write music and perform at lives. For the sound we had [Eguchi Ryuu], our producer; for artwork and design we brought in [Kawahara Hikaru] from Lincoln Graphics starting on this album.
U: There had been just about a year since our debut when we released “amp-reflection,” and when we thought about the times we’d opened ourselves up and the times we’d gotten responses to that, when we’d ask ourselves how much of our music was something that only we could have done, we’d wonder if we were right to trust ourselves.
--What do you mean by that?
U: For example, in our first single, “futuristic imagination,” it’s very striking when the strings come in. We think that was the first thing we trusted ourselves on.
--You said at the time that it was a really big decision for the band.
U: Thinking back on that time, there were times that we were really headstrong. We had our “band aesthetic,” and we’d say something like “We’re the band, and we say there should be strings in our music!” But I think it was better that way. There were songs that we were more hands-off with, and they weren’t good. We’ve kept the continuity between our songs now and those from that year. We hated being hands-off with our music, and none of those songs were that way.
--I see. Is that related to the change in heart you personally experienced, Uchimura?
U: Yes, music became fun. Before, thinking hard about things - well, brooding on them - was my bad habit. (bitter laugh) To put it simply, I couldn’t even gather information, because I’d drown in it. I’d get so packed that I couldn’t tell whether I was talking about the previous single or the next one. It was like, from day to day I didn’t know what I was working on.
U: I felt a little chaotic. Still, it’s normal that I’d have a period that like - we were doing a lot for promotion and lives and all kinds of things. Because of all that I was always “switched on;” I was totally immersed in SFP activities. So there was a lot of chaos then, but more recently I’m looking at SFP with more distance, so I’m feeling more refreshed.
--How did you feel while you were working on the new single, “RPG?”
Uchimura: We made each of the three songs on this single in a different way, but “RPG” was written in in more the same way that we’ve always written music, and it also had a demo from the beginning. That song was written during the rush of releases year before last, and we’ve been wanting to release it ever since. So when we decided to start our “second phase,” it came to mind immediately. We wanted to release this song, so we had a lot to think about.
--This song is very characteristic of School Food Punishment (SFP), with a scampering feeling and strings...
U: We took at look at “SFP” from a bird’s eye view, and we saw that a great majority of our songs have this same feeling. So we wanted to say “Thanks for waiting!” by starting fresh with a groove like in “futuristic communication” and “light prayer.”
--To the extent that SFP uses the strings to exemplify reluctance, “RPG” seems to be of the same “model” as those previous songs. (laugh)
U: That’s the point. (laugh) To tell the truth, while we were writing these songs, we considered not using the strings, but I said that they would be better with them... The person I was two years ago wanted to hear me say that. (laugh)
-- (laugh) Did “RPG” have lyrics on the demo?
U: All the songs included on this single did, but they were only tentative lyrics, and before we recorded we looked hard at how we should adjust them. Eguchi wrote all the lyrics on this single. Before, on our other work, the lyrics were good no matter how you took them. They were good even if you misheard them, and they were good if you thought about them. But we'd adjust them to make them easier to understand. There’s a joy to singing lyrics, and a joy to hearing that they’ve stirred emotion in someone. So when I was more calm [after our rush of releases], I wanted to write more “lyrical” lyrics. To that end, I wanted them to be done by a third party.
--So you took them from “diary” to “lyrics?”
U: Yes, exactly. Before I just laid everything out in my lyrics, exactly the way it felt when it came out of me, but this time I wanted something more lyrical. And to that end, I didn’t think that what I’d written could strictly be called "lyrics."
--Did SFP not want to write lyrics?
U: Yeah. Doing this is better than having us write the lyrics, and they remain consistent with the way that I think.
Hidai: I think that our lyrics have been getting more and more easy to understand since we went major, but with this single we’ve placed more focus on the melody, and it’s easier to listen to. We’ve been consciously moving in that direction. We’ve actually been trying things out, then listening to it and tweeking afterwards. We feel like we’re conveying so much more than just music.
--And so, in that way, SFP has started their “second phase” with “RPG.”
U: Yes. “RPG” is consistent between both what the fans hoped for and what we thought would be good. The other songs on the single are the same way. From this single you can start to see the “second phase” that we’ve been working on. We’re really looking forward to hearing the next thing we make. (laugh)
--(laugh) How do you feel about your plans after this?
U: We want our work going forward to be easier to understand, although we don't want to abandon everything we’ve done up until now. We want it to be easier to understand who we are and what kind of music we make. But the content will change more and more... I think that our work from here on will have an element of surprise, and it’s good for it to have an impact.
--And finally, please give us a message to pass along to your fans.
H: We’re prepping and putting everything in order; we’re not stopping with music. We really hope that you’ll enjoy the work we’re creating for you.
U: We want to do things that that the people who have been waiting for us and the people who will come to know us in the future will enjoy. We really want you to enjoy SFP.