Asian Kung-Fu Generation's interviews
Best Hit AKG
1 - Haruka Kanata
Masafumi Gotoh: There may have been times when I had to be emotional to keep living. On the one hand there is the frustration of not getting recognition, and on the other hand there is a feeling of wanting to fight it out in the live venues. For this message to come across in the song, the energy must be direct. This is because I felt the spirit of the times strongly; a nervous way in going about things.
Kiyoshi Ijichi: This is a song from right after I joined. At the time, Asian Kung-Fu Generation didn't have any up-tempo songs. I wanted to add my own flavor that came from my background in Punk and Hard Rock, and I felt that this was the meaning and mission for my joining the band.
Takahiro Yamada: I think about how rugged sounding the intro no matter how many times I hear the song. I think that how the beat changes towards the end was excellent considering how little we knew back then. The band was formed, and Ijichi joined. A lot of new beginnings took place then for AKG, but I feel that this song was our real start. I'm sure that many people "met" us through this song as well.
2 - Mirai no Kakera
Masafumi Gotoh: This is a song that was created out of the emotional excitement that band members were enjoying, without aim or a call for attention. The chord progression is simply the bottom four strings on a guitar, from lowest; E, A, D, and G. When we sang on top of this progression it sounded cool, so we thought that this would be fun.
Takahiro Yamada: The song is huge. I mean the sound packs some volume within itself, and the emotional parts of the band are really embedded in it. This may have been better in terms of an initial impulse. The song got longer and longer because we were creating it in an impulsive way. (laughter)
Kiyoshi Ijichi: This was a time in which each individual's style and the style of the band as a whole was formed. It was our flavor. For us, "Haruka Kanata" was an invention. I think the song was promoted because it symbolized this invention, and the flavor of this band as a whole.
Kensuke KitaI personally felt that the way Gocchi (Gotoh's nickname) sang and his voice was really good. I'm not talking about how he can hit high notes, but his voice has changed over the years. In this song his voice was fresh, and he also sounded desperate. I like that.
3 - Understand
Takahiro Yamada: It doesn't feel like this song is out of place here, although it was not a single. On the contrary, this song's existence kind of takes over. We received great feedback as soon as we started playing this song live. It has now become an indispensable song. As I recall, "Understand" was a song we made toward the end, and we recorded it with "Jihei Tansaku". It intrigues me that we made these two contrasting songs at the same time.
Kensuke Kita: I personally like the melody we use for the bridge. It makes me think that Gocchi was really a superb melody maker from the beginning. The guitar riff is simple, so that guitar kids can copy it with ease.
Masafumi Gotoh: I think it'sactually something that make this song special; that middle school and high school kids can cover the song. It's important that everyone can sing the song, and songs that are so complex they can't be covered do not last long. In these terms, it's a song that we can never write again. It's not easy to create a song that is so celebrated no matter how many times we perform it, and this song is "power pop".
4 - Kimi to Iu Hana
Kiyoshi ijichi: It was so hard for me to do the 4-beat trick kick drum with the hi-hat as an accent. It was the first time my director yelled at me, "you suck !". I am grateful that this experience was the origin for my current drumming style, but it was difficult. On the other hand, I wanted to do everything in my power to put it in the song. There weren't any bands that were doing this in japan at the time, and we felt that it would be fun so we spearheaded the idea. Now it's as if this 4-beat and the force of the 8-beat we use in "Rewrite" have become our patents. This is what I think, merely for selfish reasons.
Masafumi Gotoh: This was an innovation. We all thought, "this is great!", when we made the song. The combination of the 4-beat trick kick drum and high hat later let to "Loop&Loop". I haven't mentioned much about the lyrics of the song, because I'm sort of ashamed that songs until this point were love were love songs. This and "Mirai no Kakera". I think I felt that I could sing love songs if I wanted to at that point. Does this take you by surprise ? Well the person who wrote the song is saying this.. (laughter).
5 - Rewrite
Masafumi Gotoh: This is a song we wrote when we were inspired by the angered we felt by the introduction of copy control discs (CCCD). We wrote and scrapped many versions, wondering what this phenomenon meant, and claiming it was an illusion. I was honestly surprised that this song, in which I was being sarcastic, would sell this much (laughter). We had no intention initially to make this song a single. That's why it's such a mysterious song. We didn't choose the song, but the song was chosen, and it kept spreading.
Kiyoshi Ijichi: The song was featured in "Fullmetal Alchemist", and thanks to this we went on to be known world-wide because this animation ignited the japanese animation culture. But for me, it hasn't changed at all since before. They say that some songs "mature" as they are played countless times live, but I feel like this song didn't change a single bit. There are times we arrange it differently for live events, but the potential of the song is just too overwhelming, and in the end everything gets concentrated in the chorus. This is our anthem, because everybody gets energized whenever we play this song. This is the song for which the reaction of listeners does not change.
6 - Kimi no Machi made
Masafumi Gotoh: This song is like a superalloy robot that we created with all of our special moves we had at the time, in order to make a pop song (laughter). This was the fruit of our efforts at the time. Our "Ajikan style". We may have been able to put our own style out with no shame in "Kimi no Machi Made" and "Rewrite", because before these we felt like we one-upped everybody by having two experimental songs, "Siren" and "Loop&Loop". In other words, I wanted to make "Sol-fa" a pop album for a wide audience, and I wanted it to be the best we could make using the methods we had accumulated until then. Of course, I wanted to show the world what Ajikan was all about too. In order to do this, all I have to do is make things that are advanced, right?
Kensuke Kita: This song is pop as well, but I like the light feeling, like the weight is being lifted off of your shoulders that hits you from the beginning of the song. It's a bit different from "Understand" and "Kimi to Iu Hana". What I felt once again this time was that Ajikan has a lot of songs with good intros. I think this is a simple, yet well made intro as well.
7 - Loop&Loop
Kensuke Kita: This was a time when all four of us felt that we had made an amazing song, back when we didn't have our current studio and were using the local studio. We felt like we should keep this for the next release (laughter). It was a song we intentionally left out of "Kimi Tsunagi", so we were confident that we had a great song in stock for later.
Masafumi Gotoh: We thought that if we put it in "Kimi Tsunagi" it would just sell too much. We wanted to be "emo" at the time, and we felt that if we were going to break out it should be the second album. We wanted to make a (Oasis) "Morning Glory" for our second album. Putting all things aside, "Loop&Loop" is a song that will always have a big impact on my career as a song writer. It's just purely a good song whether or not it's pop. I think that this is individuality. It was epoch-making and an invention. Something nobody else can ever write or compose, and something I myself wouldn't be able to do again. It was one of my first breakthroughs, following "Haruka Kanata", "Siren", and "Kimi to Iu Hana".
8 - Blackout
Kiyoshi Ijichi: In the beginning I misheard Gotoh's phrase at the top of the song, and hit an offbeat. He said, "it's off, but it actually sounds better". Then, mysteriously, we went on to change the beat back half way through the song (laughter). Back then, we were saying that it was a "good mistake", but that was a time that we would use any mistakes as long as they made the song more interesting. We were actually hoping for more mistakes.
Masafumi Gotoh: I think it opened new doors for us. It was a time when we became more aware of rhythm, and Ijichi and I started going into the studio with just the two of us. I felt like "Blackout" was a great song, but it didn't resonate too well with the rest of the world (laughter). I thought to myself, "expression is a timing device, so if people understand it in a few years from now, that's OK. Right now, there's no reason to make an instantly energizing song." That's where we enter "Fanclub".
Takahiro Yamada: I think how the chorus begins is great. It's responsibly pop, so I think the whole song is effective as a pop song.
9 - Blue Train
Kensuke Kita: This is the first song for which my name was credited for the composition. I like the chord in the intro. I wanted to use that chord. It was Gotoh's idea for the guitars in the intro to go back and forth.
Masafumi Gotoh: The band had a lot of worries at this time. We had used all of our stock with "Sol-fa", and really felt the pressure that we had to find a new way to keep the band going. To add to the problems, during the time we were making "Fanclub", my mental health was going down the tube. This is a song that Kensuke came up with the idea for, and it was like light that spread into a song. The image we had was XTC's "Black Sea". At this point we made "Blue Train" and "Gekkou", and I finally felt like we were leading to an album.
Kiyoshi Ijichi: This was a song in which, as a drummer, my stock went up. It didn't require much technical skill, but I started out in a marching band, and thanks to that the beat I struck was praised by everybody. Although I may sometimes think this is not the case, the song serves as a business card for the drummer, Kiyoshi Ijichi.
10 - Aru Machi no Gunjou
Kensuke Kita: This is a song that was created in a period when Ajikan was gradually changing and transitioning from "Fanclub" to "World World World". I wanted to put it in the next album, and I think it's a satisfactory song for me, partly due to the fact that we completely trashed a song we were working on right before this one. It's a song I love. In the song order for "World World World", it would fall after "World World" and "Korogaru Iwa, Kimi ni Asa ga Furu", but I really wanted to particular about it and had them put the songs in the order.
Masafumi Gotoh: We analysed "Fanclub", and this was at a time when we were moving in a progressive direction. We kept on saying complicated things, like "let's make a 40-minute song". That's around the tie talk of a movie came to us, and we made this song. "Aru Machi no Gunjou" may be the product of my wanting to create a complicated musical piece, therefore escalating my feelings to the point where I was about to break. That's why this song was made, and I began to feel relaxed after this.
11 - After Dark
Kiyoshi Ijichi: It felt like we finally got to the end of a long tunnel. It really felt like was passed through something. We passed "Fanclub", and got to "World World World", so the speed of the song was different from the initial impact from our starting days. At the end of the day, we are cynical. We won't come at you in a straight way. If we just had normal choruses, it would be straight-forward, and sound cool, and the rhythm section is like drum and bass, and some parts are just disturbing and would leave you restless (laughter). But we understand this as we make our songs. I felt like at last we have become able to do this collectively as a band.
Takahiro Yamada: We became able to make cool, pop-sounding, and compact songs even when we were trying to do something difficult. The lyrics are positive too.
Masafumi Gotoh: I think this may be the last song we made for "World World World". It's pretty wide open. There is an intent to make colorful what we cut right out of "Fanclub".
12 - Korogaru Iwa, Kimi ni Asa ga Furu
Masafumi Gotoh: This is a song we made as we went around summer festivals. "Korogaru Iwa", literally means a rock that rolls. It's rock 'n' roll. It's not "Ishi (stone)"! Around the same time, I went to Korea for the first time and noticed something. I never thought that my music would go overseas. Then, we are invited to a rock festival in Korea, and 5,000 people are singing "Rewrite". I ondered what the heck was going on, and at the same time I was emotionally moved. I also felt sad, because I assumed I wouldn't see these people ever again. I wondered if this was the way life was going to be, if it just accumulated like this, where it would lead, and what was waiting for me in the future. I put a lot of these feelings in this song. I used spoken language for the first time in my lyrics, and this brought me closer to my writing. I don't think I've ever had a song I spoke so much about.
Kiyoshi Ijichi: That's why I want everybody to receive Gotoh's message. We will support that message with our sounds.
13 - Mustang
Kiyoshi Ijichi: It's rare for a chorus that I thought up to be used. The melody was altered a but, but I was still happy. So, I felt I could write, and started writing songs, but was severely criticized and quit (laughter).
Takahiro Yamada: I wanted an indifferent sounding song with a mid-tempo beat, and brought some ideas with me. That's were Gocchi put that simple intro on top. I like the sadness that it bring about in me.
Masafumi Gotoh: I like the bridge. The part at the end of the chorus where it goes, "Woo.. Nakusu nanika wo", it really strikes a chord in me. It's the most romantic song, including lyrics. It was a song while reading the manga Solanin, and I'm singing about losing our young people. For example, with the part about band club, it synchronized me from the past with me in the present. That's why it became sort of a reminiscent song. It's strange how this ends up being the closing song for the movie, Solanin, as "Mustang (mix for Meiko)".
14 - Fujisawa Loser
Kiyoshi Ijichi: Gotoh kept emailing me that he wanted to do something fun, and that he wanted to do something as he pleased. So I hardly gave a thought and we camped out and made this song in a studio in Fujisawa.
Masafumi Gotoh: I think it was kind of a reward for me to be allowed to make this song. Everybody was exhausted from "World World World" and "Mana Minu Ashita ni", but I felt like "World World World" and "Surf Bungaku Kamakura" are twins. We needed both something elaborate and woven together, and something more primitive. The amazing thing about this album is that we gave songs their names as we made them. When we finished this song, it sounded like a first song, and we were in Fujisawa, hence "Fujisawa Loser". The JR train runs there. On platform 3 there is only JR. The protagonist is watching a train headed for Tokyo from the Tokaido line platform. Someone who quit going to work from Fujisawa, and rode the Enoden to go on a journey.
15 - Shinseiki no Love Song
Kiyoshi Ijichi: We learned how to create a demo through "Surf Bungaku kamakura", and that's the direction we continued in. I tried sampling in my PC at home linked to equipment to record my guitar, and put it in reverse, stuff like that. I really felt like we had something when the demo for this song was complete. I really thought this would change something. I think this is a true breakthrough since I wanted to make a song that would change the times, and hit those born in the 2000's hard. I felt from around this song that I shouldn't just follow Gotoh, but that I should put my own ego up front and keep clashing. We really did get into a lot of fights. This is a new style that we created this way, and I think Ajikan's new handwork was created at this time. This is the first time that we combined multiple drum takes. We changed drum sets in the second half, and the recording took an entire day. It went well with what Gotoh was trying to do, and the mood was good
16 - Solanin
Kensuke Kita: We had the original lyrics by Inio Asao, but there were no restrictions to keep the song as it was. We were even allowed to write new lyrics. Gocchi wanted to draw from how people liked the original, so he decided to make a song to the lyrics, and did it wonderfully. It became a great song. I can't say enough about him.
Takahiro Yamada: My first impression when Gocchi brought the song was that, "everybody's going to fall in love with this". I was able to rediscover the underlying strength of this band, because we were able to incorporate this kind of catchy vibe quite easily. On the other hand, I also thought it was what they expected from Ajikan.
Masafumi Gotoh: Changing the words would be the same as saying the original doesn't need to exist, and I didn't want to write an imaginary song. The only thing I changed was the order of the chorus. There was one line in the original (although it wasn't in the chorus), "Tatoe Yurui Shiawasega", that I thought was crucial in holding the song together.
17 - Marching Band
Kensuke Kita: With the effects of the disaster that hit in March, our tour was cancelled and we couldn't meet up much either. Of course, we couldn't make music properly. When we met with just the four of us in April to play our instruments, it was fun again. Musically, rather than showing what "Magic Disc" would become later, although we made the song much later, we wrote this song with the sounds we wanted to hear and feeling we were felling at the time.
Masafumi Gotoh: The boy is a metaphor for myself, and the girl a metaphor for the young generation. I wanted to look back at myself and send encouragement to my young, innocent feeling. I'm in my mid-30s and whether I like it or not, those emotions well up. The "Hikare, Kotoba yo" in the chorus really represents myself and what words I spell out or just shoot out. I think that whether it's music or a painting, all expressions of feelings are language, even if words are not involved. The words one speaks will lead the way for their path. Whatever the word, if it is beautiful it will make that person and the whole world surround that person beautiful. That's why I wanted a strong and beautiful word.