Translated by Erin Grace
--First of all, why don’t you tell us about the circumstances that lead you to release “Ura Utabaka?”
Hirai Ken: I wanted to do something for my 15th anniversary and had a lot of ideas. I was thinking of maybe a compilation or a tribute album, but in the end I decided on this. I’ve been talking about a compilation album of B-side singles for a long time. I was really happy when the day came to gather the songs for it, because I was heartbroken that there were a lot of songs that I couldn’t include on “Utabaka.” I don’t have the constraints of a single, for instance, so I’ve included a lot of songs that frankly express my emotions right now. This disc is even more personal than “Utabaka,” and the songs on it face the future. In terms of the A-sides… Although there weren’t a lot of tie-up songs included in the initial planning of those singles, there were a lot from the middle planning stages and onward. I got some feedback on what would be suitable, and wrote quite a lot on commission. But I wasn’t in the same situation for the B-sides, so I created a lot of music of my own. Although it’s a little cocky to say so, I personally feel that I can transmit a greater density of feeling when I don’t have time constraints.
--So considering the types of songs that are on this album, what did you think when you first heard it?
H: When I first heard it, I thought… At first, it was… Well, I was embarrassed. (laugh) I was embarrassed… Just embarrassed. Yeah. Embarrassed. Yep.
--How many times are you going to say it? (laugh)