All articles translated and contributed by Annet Lokis
A Trio Coming to a Decade - THE ALFEE
THE ALFEE consist of three charming people. Though they look disjointed, it is actually a band with strong ties and each person of the trio is unique.
As it has been said before, "ALFEE is a group with three disjointed characters". There was a lot of so-called criticism that the band is pretty strange behind these words. However, they said this with a laugh.
"Yes, we look disjointed and have totally different personalities. It is the best thing that we are together in a trio, after all I think that we couldn't do anything good apart from each other."
That sort of criticism was blown away by the hit song "Marie-Ann/メリーアン" last year. The dissimilarity of unique characters of the band started to get praise. Well, such things used to happen in the world. Still laughing, on the TV screen they were saying just the same, "Yes, we look disjointed............."
This is THE ALFEE's self-confidence that they can afford. Perhaps when they debuted in the form of a group they were thrilled by how it felt to be a band.
So, within 10 years, the distribution of roles each of them play in the trio happened naturally. And, the words ".....we couldn't do anything good apart from each other" also shows modesty. No doubt, it is clear that each one of them is a very talented person, but only when they are together is it a real triple power. Therefore, during 10 years, their performances are an energy that, just like impulses, moves throughout the body; such an energy overflows and leaves a pleasant feeling.
The new song "Hoshizora no distance/星空のディスタンス" has been released on January 21. It is used as a theme song of "Mujaki na kankei/無邪気な関係" (Innocent Connection), a series on TBS channel (every Friday, 10 pm).
"I've been thinking about things like what on earth fills the distance between a man and woman. Some men and women absolutely don't invest in love. That is exactly what I wanted to say with the words 'distance of the starry sky'." - says Takamizawa. This time the lyrics and music for the song are written by him too. Following "Marie-Ann/メリーアン", Sakurai is on vocals.
"Recently songs have got more of hard-rock style. But in the case of THE ALFEE I want the melody to remain beautiful." - says the current leader of the band, Takamizawa. About a year ago the leader of THE ALFEE was Sakazaki. "We became a couple, sado-leader and sub-leader," they joke.
To be honest, it actually doesn't matter who the leader is, because this is the perfect equilateral triangle, and no matter how you rotate it, it would still remain an equilateral triangle.
My Musical Soul (オレの音楽魂) - Takamizawa
I still remember that feeling you get when you hold an electric guitar in your hands for the first time. I was really small when I was waiting for my electric guitar. Before I bought an amplifier, I used to play it while it was connected to a stereo or radio. There were really cool guys among my friends, so we made an amplifier using audio speakers.
Since that time, my affection for guitars hasn’t changed much. Actually, it hasn’t changed at all! Even if I fiddle with a guitar all day long, I never get bored. Sometimes I was so meticulously trying to learn guitar riffs that I realized I would sit up all night until morning.
Music makes me happy, especially when we’re playing on stage, or the enjoyment of making music while recording. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. Whether or not our music is popular, it doesn’t really matter. It's always just something like “let’s make a good song”. Therefore, the fact that “Mary-Ann/メリーアン” and “Hoshizora no distance/星空のディスタンス” were actually appraised and became hits is extremely nice. On the other hand I still wonder why “Wakare no rhythm/別れの律動” had no success two years ago. It would have been as good as “Mary-Ann” is.
It’s difficult. In the end, what on earth is important for a musician? It’s really good for a musician to become number one on the charts and to be remembered for having a lot of hit songs, but in the end, whether I get it all or not, I'll feel a sense of fulfillment anyway.
There are not many songs I write from my own experience. As for me, I want to sing of the dreams that are in my mind at that certain time. I think after all, regardless of gender, human beings, dreamers or romantics, do not hold their dreams strongly enough with both hands. However, these things are much more difficult to achieve, so that’s why I want to come close to it at least a little. Even I, a rather immature, irresponsible man. I don’t want to make songs with strange how-to-live lessons, though I don’t want to make just oversentimental love songs anymore either. I want to make something that can be a reflection of me now… in the form of something else.
When I switched from folk guitar to electric guitar, they said that ALFEE had changed, but actually, only the sound changed; I, Toshihiko Takamizawa, haven’t changed, not in the slightest. It’s not that I am positioning myself as just a rock musician or just a folk musician. It’s just me, and I simply do what I like to do.
I think I’m absolutely an ordinary man, wearing an outfit with chains and purposefully bleaching my hair just because I’m on TV along with Duran Duran. Complete fanboy. I have some habits; I hate lies and injustice. Because I have a dangerous personality, I think if I hadn’t met music, if there were no guitars, I wouldn’t have become a worthy person.
"It's only a dream I don't wanna lose" - THE ALFEE
To do an interview about "Starship", we went to Kumamoto (Kyushu) to meet with the band, which is currently on tour. From this time "BEST HITS" and Alfee have built close friendly relations.
Takamizawa: "Starship" is a theme song for a sci-fi animated movie that will be released in July, but actually I made it not under the influence of the content of the film. The song had been written earlier when we started to talk about that movie, so, thinking, "Why not," I decided to use it. This time we continued with hard-rock, just like "Mary-Ann" and "Hoshizora no distance", but in those songs choral singing wasn't in the spotlight. That's why this time above all things I wanted to bring Alfee chorus forward.
Interviewer: Although all three songs, "Mary-Ann", "Hoshizora no distance" and "Starship" are very speedy, it feels that this time it has the fastest tempo.
Takamizawa: Yes, and the most smooth as well.
Interviewer: This song has something common with the leitmotif of "Flash Gordon" by Queen. Exciting atmosphere, isn't it?
Takamizawa: Yes, and that's nice. I love it too. Thus Alfee are like a Japanese Queen.
Interviewer: When it comes to the lyrics, what this song is about?
Takamizawa: It becomes a little fantastical, as if to compare a "Starship" to a woman. It's about the feeling like when you, together with your loved one, fly up into the skies.
Sakurai: My vocal is the main in the solo, but this voice range is more comfortable than in "Hoshizora no distance". However, in a chorus part the pitch is very high.
Sakazaki: We challenge the limits.
Sakurai: I've gone even beyond the limits of "Hoshizora no distance". Frankly, I reached the upper point of voice power (laughs). But there is a pretty interesting thing: it's very hard to produce such tone singing alone, but when we're all three in chorus, it's so easy.
Sakazaki: Sure thing, it's because you are shrouded in the gentle love of Takamizawa and me. It makes you increase the tone (laughs).
Sakurai: Yeah yeah. Since I have a mid-range tone, the two of you cheer me on on both sides. That's great! But this time it's also because I have to sing with real confidence. Because the contents of the song, the words of that love song, are pretty biting. If you pave the way by the distance from "Mary-Ann" to a cosmic "Starship", it will go far beyond this world. This is amazing.
Sakazaki: After all, human love is something transcendental.
Takamizawa: In regards to the era, "Mary-Ann" is the Middle Ages, "Hoshizora.." is the modern one, and "Starship" is the future. In the solo at the second half of the song my voice is crazily high-pitched. It's almost a madness!
Sakazaki: Moreover, it is an unearthly, inhuman voice. In short, with the love of those who are close to you, will eventually open the Universe to youself. You have to cherish your loved ones, that's the meaning of this song. Yeah, nicely said, I'm gonna sleep well tonight.
"I won't forget anything I've been impressed by" - Takamizawa
After Sakurai with his story about "Clothing", and Sakazaki with "Food", now it's Takamizawa's turn to say his word. Of course, his story is on the theme of "Inhabitation".
I was a second-year student when I left my home in Saitama and started to live alone in an apartment. It is a common occurrence for all the ordinary families. Actually, I didn't have anything to complain about, it was just quite prevalent among the boys to leave their houses aiming for freedom, looking for so-called adventures, or rather romance, at the time I was around junior high school. Since I am a second son anyway, eventually I would still leave the house because of that, so I thought it was better to do it as soon as possible.
Just when I'd become a sophomore, and my brother had married and the family structure changed a little, I got the feeling that I should leave the home. I didn't plan anything, just suddenly one day I said "I'd like to live alone" to my parents. I was lucky since I met their understanding in this regard. And, well, since I was a boy, there was nothing dangerous in just living alone. So, I rented an apartment in Tokyo. Since then, I lived there. I live there even now. Gee, so many memories linked with that room. I composed a lot of songs there as well. Therefore I don't think I want to ever move into another flat.
People usually start to think of building their own home, but, to make it clear, there is absolutely no such desire for me. It has nothing in common with my view of "Life". In my case, even if I'm gonna settle down, I want to be ready to pop out at any time with only one bag in hand, I want to have the feeling of being able to suddenly go anywhere, anytime. That's why I don't even need lots of furniture. To mention the things that really can be found there, there are records. Also musical instruments and car instruments.
I don't have many material desires. Care just a little about something to wear. I'm not interested in luxury at all.
As for the word "habitation", there is a passion for stars to me. In a global sense. If there were a place with oxygen outside the Earth, I'd like to live there.
What's the percentage of time that music occupies in my life? I'm not sure exactly, but thinking from what point and until what point I am involved in music, I think it probably totally takes all of my time. Well, music isn't only a bunch of musical notes. It's a little exaggerated, but when creating a melody, it doesn't mean I'm also presenting my own thoughts. Motivation, arising out of my own sensitivity, is something I'm constantly in need of. For example, such as my impressions from movies, books or conversations with people.
Although I might look bossy by saying things like this, first of all, I'm the most simple man. Even without seeking stimulation consciously with all the ardor, you'll be immediately impressed by something, awaken from boredom. By sensitivity I mean receiving such pleasant feelings, when looking at the sunset and thinking "this is so beautiful..". It is often said that child's eyes are pure and clean, but while growing up it's apparently gradually clouded by seeing too many various things. This is ridiculous. Whether it's impossible to return to childhood, I don't want to forget the feelings I received at the time I was impressionable.
I think "springtime of life" can be applied not only to young guys. Even those who are 30 can find themselves among "outsiders" and those who are "looking for youth and love".