Kohnosuke Sakazaki Interview

Grateful Birth


落ち込んだ日々を乗り越えるチカラは、3人で生み出す音
The power to overcome the days of depression was the music the three of us produced

Translated by A.K.

―坂崎さんが音楽に目覚めたのは何歳くらいだったのでしょうか?
--Sakazaki-san, how old were you when you became aware of music?

「坂崎家は僕の父が長男で、おじさんやおばさんが一緒に暮らしていたんだけど、みんな楽器が好きでいろんな楽器がうちにあったんです。木琴、オカリナ、ギター、ウクレレ、クラリネット、フルート、尺八、三味線・・。でもみんな、ちゃんと教育を受けたりはしていなかったから、我流で演奏していましたね。僕も木琴やオカリナ、あと大正琴なんかで遊んでいました。新年会にはみんなで集まって、坂崎家の大セッションをするんですよ。僕も小学生の頃にはウクレレで参加しましたね。人前で初めて歌を歌ったのも、たしかその新年会。小学校2、3年生かな、村田英雄さんの「王将」を歌ったのをよく覚えてます(笑)。家の中にはおじさんやおばさんたちが聴いている音楽がいつも流れていました。邦楽もジャズもアメリカンポップスもね。
“The Sakazaki family had my father as the eldest son, and my uncles and aunts lived together. They all loved musical instruments, so there were a lot of instruments in my house, such as Xylophone, ocarina, guitar, ukulele, clarinet, flute, shakuhachi (bamboo flute), Shamisen... But nobody had properly learned how to play them, so they were playing them in their own styles. I was also playing xylophone, ocarina, Taisho koto (Nagoya harp), etc. At the New Year party, everyone gathered and had a jam session together. When I was in elementary school, I joined the session and played the ukulele. I think at the party I sang a song for the first time in front of many people. I still remember very well that I sang “Osho (king of Japanese chess)”, and I was in the second or third grade in elementary school at that time (laughs). My uncles and aunts were always listening to music, so all kinds of music – from Japanese music to jazz and American pop music - was being played in my house.


僕がギターに憧れたのは、小学校4年生の時に兄貴にビートルズやベンチャーズを聴かせてもらったのがきっかけです。その時すでにソロシンガーよりもグループでの演奏に魅力を感じていて、なんとなくバンドをやりたいなと思っていましたね。グループだとリズムギター、リードギター、ベース、ドラムといろいろなものが見えて楽しいし、そのアンサンブルを聴く事がとても好きでした。ビートルズのコーラスも、ジョンとポールの声が分かれるところを自分で聴き取って、兄貴とハモったりしてましたね。」
My longing for the guitar started when I was in the fourth grade. My big brother let me listen to songs by the Beatles and Ventures. At that time, I was already attracted to group performance more than performance by a solo singer, and I wanted to play in a band for no special reason. I enjoyed watching various performances by the rhythm guitar, lead guitar, bass, and drums, and I really liked listening to the ensemble. I listened to the Beatles' harmony, and analyzed the portion where the voices of John and Paul were separating, and sang in harmony with my brother."

--ギターのテクニックはどうやって覚えたのですか?
--How did you learn to play the guitar with good technique?

「小学校の時はまだギターが僕の体には大きかったので、おじさんにウクレレを買ってもらって覚えましたね。ウクレレの弦は4本で、ギターでいえば1~4弦の5カボ。ウクレレを練習することでギターの弾き方もある程度はわかるようになっていましたね。
“When I was in elementary school, the guitar was still too big for my body, so I learned how to play a ukulele that my uncle bought for me. A ukulele has four strings, and if you think of it as a guitar, they are the No.1 to 4 strings with 5 capo. By practicing the ukulele, I was able to understand how to play the guitar to some extent.

自分でギターを買ったのは、中学に入ってすぐ。お年玉を貯めて12,000円のギターを兄貴と一緒に買いにいきました。僕はフォークギターを買って、兄貴も同じく12,000円のガットギターを買って。そりゃあもう、嬉しくて、嬉しくて、それからは弾きまくり(笑)。コードブックを見てコードを覚えたり、兄貴が買ってくる平凡パンチデラックスの歌本を見たりしてね。グラビアもちょこっとだけ見せてもらいましたが(笑)
I bought a guitar by myself just after entering middle school. I saved my Otoshidama (New Year’s allowance) and went to buy a guitar with my big brother. My first guitar cost 12,000 yen. I bought a folk guitar and my brother bought a gut guitar for 12,000 yen also. I was really really happy, and after that I went on a playing-the-guitar spree (laughs). I read a chord book to learn chords, and looked at a song book coming with a photo magazine called “Heibon Punch Deluxe” that my brother was buying, and played the guitar. He also let me look at the centerfold in the magazine but only just for a minute (laughs).

で、中2になってから、友達の刀根(とね)くんとTHE BUTONS(ザ・ブトンズ)というグループを組むんです。これが人生初めてのグループ結成(笑)。2人でギターを弾いてはビートルズやフォーク・クルセダーズの曲をハモったりしてましたね。演奏やトークをカセットテープに録音して、オレ達が有名になった時にはこのテーブは貴重になるぞ、なんて言ったりして。思えばもうその頃から、プロになりたいとなんとなく思っていたんでしょうね。」
After entering the second year of middle school, I formed a group called THE BUTONS (Japanese sitting cushion) with Tone-kun. It was the first group I formed in my life (laughs). We played guitars together, and sang in harmony songs by the Beatles or the Folk Crusaders. We recorded our performances and talks on cassette tapes while saying that those tapes would be valuable after we became famous. Looking back, I already wanted to be a professional in some vague way at that time."

--その後に入学した都立墨田川高校では、どんな音楽活動をしていたのですか?
--What kind of music activities did you do at Tokyo Metropolitan Sumidagawa High School?

「刀根くんとは違う高校になったんだけど、たまに会っては一緒に演奏していました。高校の友達に言わせると、僕は入学式の日にも学校にギターを持っていっていたらしい。僕は覚えていないんだけどね。先生からは学校にギターを持ってきちゃいけないと怒られたりもしたけど、放課後の教室でコンサートをやっては、“墨田川高校の吉田拓郎"になってました(笑)。そして、3年生になって生まれて初めて出場したコンテストで、桜井と出会うことになるんです。」
“Tone-kun and I went to different high schools, but sometimes we met and played together. My high school friends say that I brought a guitar to school on the day of the entrance ceremony, but I don't remember that. I remember I had concerts in a classroom after school, and felt like being “Takuro Yoshida of Sumidagawa High School” - even though teachers were angry and told me that I shouldn’t bring my guitar to school (laughs). And when I began the third year of high school, I entered a contest for the first time in my life and met Sakurai there. "

--コンフィデンスが優勝した銀座・山野楽器でのコンテストですね。桜井さんはどんな印象でしたか?
--It was the contest at Ginza Yamano Music store where "Confidence" won. What was your impression of Sakurai-san?

「あのコンテストで初めて桜井に会ったんだけど、とにかくきれいな声でね、歌もうまかった。その時はまだ桜井と一緒にやるなんて全然考えていなかったけど、あんな声のやつとハモったら気持ちいいだろうな、一緒に歌いたいなとは思っていましたよ。ビージーズ、CSN&Y、ガロなんかをコピーするには、桜井みたいな声と一緒に歌ったら絶対きれいなハーモニーになるだろうなあと。その後、8月に山野楽器でコンフィデンスのメンバーに偶然再会して、そのまま練習に参加した時に初めて桜井と一緒に歌う事になるのですが、やっぱり思ってた通り2人のハーモニーはぴったりでしたね。」
“I met Sakurai for the first time in that contest. He had a really beautiful voice and he was a very good singer. At that time I hadn't thought about forming a band with Sakurai at all, but I thought it would be nice if I could sing in harmony with a person who had that kind of a beautiful voice. I wanted to sing together with him. I thought it would become a beautiful harmony if I sang with a voice like Sakurai, when I copied songs by Bee Gees, CSN&Y, GARO, etc. After that, in August, I met a member of 'Confidence' again by chance at the Yamano Music Store, and joined their rehearsal. I sang with Sakurai for the first time, and as I had thought our voices were compatible with each other."

--そして翌年、明治学院大学に入学して高見沢さんと出会うことになるのですね。
--And then, the next year, you entered Meiji Gakuin University and met Takamizawa-san.

「高校生の頃から高見沢の存在は知っていたけど、ちゃんと話をしたのは大学に入ってから。初めて僕が高見沢に声をかけたのは大学の校舎の屋上でしたね。ビートルズが好きという話で意気投合して、その日のうちに僕の人形町の部屋に遊びにきて、2人で歌ったり、ギターを弾いたり。そして、“実は明日キッドアイラックホールでライブがあるんだけど、一緒に出ない?”と僕が高見沢を誘ったという話しはもう皆さんもご存知ですよね。で、次の日、僕達が練習しているところに桜井がやって来て、高見沢と劇的な再会をするわけです(笑)。その後の高見沢は僕の人形町の部屋にいつも泊まってました。昼間、高見沢は授業を受けに大学に行き、僕は2部だったのですが夕方までには出かけて行き、キャンパスで練習して、夜、僕は授業に出ないでそのまま高見沢と一緒に帰ってきちゃうの(笑)。途中、銀座の中古レコード店でレコードを買っては、2人で情報交換もしましたね。そうそう、当時僕の部屋には1冊のノートがあっていろんなことを書いたりもしていたんですよ。日記みたいなこととか、麻雀の点数とか、男同士で(笑)。高見沢がうえーんって泣いてるマンガが描いてあったり。そのノート、実は今もとってあるんですよ。とても人様には見せられない事がいっぱい書いてありますけど・・(笑)。」
“I knew of Takamizawa when I was a high school student, but I properly had a conversation with him only after I entered university. The place where I spoke to Takamizawa for the first time was on the roof of one of our university school buildings. We hit it off as we chatted about the Beatles, the band both of us loved, and on the same day he visited my room in Ningyo-cho, and we sang and played guitars together. I'm sure you already knew that I invited Takamizawa to our band. "We will have a concert at the Kid Airac Hall tomorrow. Why don't you play with me in the concert?" The next day, Sakurai came to the place where we were practicing and had a dramatic reunion with Takamizawa (laughs). After that, Takamizawa always stayed in my room in Ningyo-cho. During the day, he went to college to take classes. I was in the night colledge, so I went to campus before evening, and practiced songs there, and at night I came back to my room with Takamizawa without attending my classes (laughs). On our way home, we dropped by a second-hand record store in Ginza and bought records there. We exchanged information about records too. And yes, I kept a notebook in my room and we wrote various things on it. Sometimes we wrote something like a journal. Sometimes we wrote mahjong scores, or a manga of Takamizawa crying... It's funny that two men had that kind of notebook and wrote those things (laughs). Actually, I still keep the notebook, but  there are a lot of things I cannot show to people ... (laughs)."

--さらにその翌年、いよいよビクターレコードからデビューする事になるわけですが、徐々にデビューが決まっていく過程を坂崎さんはどうとらえていたのですか?
--In the next year, you finally had a debut from Victor Records. How did you feel about the process of gradually proceeding towards your debut? 

「オリジナル曲がそれほどなかったから、もっと曲を作らなくちゃと思ってはいましたね。でもレコードを出せるなんて凄いことだし、デビューさせてくれるならやったほうがいいんじゃないかとわりと気軽に考えていましたね。まずは第1歩という感じで。とにかくトントン拍子でデビューしてしまった分、その後のハードルは高かったですけど…。
“We didn't have many original songs, so I thought we had to make more songs. But it was amazing to be able to release a record, and I sort of casually thought that it would be better to have a debut when we had a chance. Anyway, we took our first step forward. The process before our debut was very smooth and quick, but because of that, we faced high hurdles after we had a debut...

ターニングポイントとなったのは、やっぱり3枚目のシングルが発売中止になってビクターをやめた時かな。でも、僕は楽観的なところがあって、その後のかまやつさんや(研)ナオコさんのバックバンド時代は、それはそれでまんざらでもなかったんです。アルフィーとしてはもちろんいい状況ではなかったけれど、ステージで演奏して3人がミュージシャンとして評価されるのは少なくともこれまでよりはいい事だなと。そこから再デビューに向けてオリジナル曲を作ることにもなって行くわけですしね。」
The turning point was the time when our third single was canceled and we quit Victor Records. But I was optimistic, and I was kind of satisfied to some extent even during the period when we were playing as a backup band for Kamayatsu-san and Naoko-san. Of course, it wasn't a good situation for Alfie, but it was at least better than before, because the three of us could play music on stage and we were recognized as musicians. From that point, we started writing original songs towards our second debut."

一もしアルフィーが誕生していなかったら、坂崎さんどんなお仕事をしていたでしょう?
--If Alfee hadn't been born, what kind of job would you have chosen?

「熱帯魚屋さんかなあ・・・今となってみると趣味も多いし、他の可能性も考えられるよね。でも、やっぱり音楽関係の仕事だったかもしれないな、しがないギター弾きとかね。昔から、何があっても自分がギターを練習しまくって弾きまくっていれば誰かに使ってもらえる時が来るんじゃないか、そう思ってやっていたしね。だからもし、40年前の自分に会えるとしたらこう言ってあげるよ、“今のうちにもっと練習しておけ”とね(笑)。」
"I think it would be an owner of a tropical fish shop... I have a lot of hobbies so there are other possibilities, but I think I might have chosen a music-related job after all, something like an unsuccessful guitar player. Because I believed if I kept practicing and playing the guitar no matter what happened, the time would come and somebody would want to use me. So if I could meet myself 40 years ago, I would say 'Practice the guitar more while you have time.' (laughs)”