Interview with Needless Lyrics

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JaME sat down for a long and in-depth interview with Needless Lyrics, a new band consisting of three former ACID members.

Though a fairly new band, each member of Needless Lyrics has plenty of experience in music. JaME was able to catch up with them before they began their summer activities to chat about the creation of the band’s name, the recording of their first album and more.

NON-NON: Could you introduce yourselves, please?

Mizuki Sakagami: I’m the vocalist, Mizuki Sakagami.
Yutah Amari: I’m the bassist, Yutah Amari.
Seiichirou Hayakawa: I’m drummer, Seiichirou Hayakwa.
Daisuke Sato: I’m guitarist, Daisuke Sato. It’s nice to meet you.

NON-NON: What is the meaning of the name Needless Lyrics? It means “unnecessary lyrics,” but you seem to hold your lyrics very dear, so it’s kind of contradictory.

Yutah: When I was thinking about the band name, I thought of “Needful things,” “Needful Lyrics” and so forth. As you know, what we started thinking of and what we ended up with are totally opposite in meaning. When we decided to play with Mizuki, I wasn’t sure what kind of lyrics he would write, so I asked him, “What kind of lyrics do you want to sing?” He said, “I just want to sing positive things as much as possible,” so I thought, “Ah, I see. He is particular about what he sings after all.” But if I was to have given the name “Needful Lyrics,” it would have seemed pushy – like we were insinuating something. (laughs) I didn’t want to say “Lyrics are really important.” So, I named the band something quite the opposite, with the meaning of “Even if they are unnecessary to you…” My personality is a little bit warped like that. (laughs)

NON-NON: Were you being modest?

Yutah: Yes. Well, if I made a direct translation, it means “unnecessary lyrics,” but we wanted such “unnecessary things” to become “necessary things,” so we decided to use the name. Music is not like food, clothing or shelter, since we can live without it, right? However, we believe in the power and miracles that music brings, so we created this oppositional name to highlight this.

NON-NON: Did everyone agree with the band name?

All: Yes.

NON-NON: Your lyrics are positive; they cheer us up and give us the strength to work hard. Did you write them to persuade yourself, too?

Mizuki: Yes, I think so. I think that if we are not cheered up by our music, then listeners won’t be either.

NON-NON: Could you tell us how the band was formed? When was it decided that Mizuki would join you as vocalist?

Seiichiro: Around November of last year?

Yutah: No… I think when I decided to play with him, it was later than that. I think it was some time in January this year?

Seiichirou: However, we met once in November and talked about it, right?

Yutah: Honestly speaking, when our former band disbanded, I thought about whether I should continue or not. At that time, we had a meeting to select songs, and the songs that Daisuke and I brought were Period and Kirari, so we were already heading off into different directions. At the same time, Junpei and Masamitsu had decided to leave the band, so we started to look for a vocalist that was heading in the same direction and wanted to continue together with us. We searched high and low, holding auditions again and again, but we couldn’t find anyone for a long time. (laughs)

Our last live was September 26th, but we had started searching long before then. Actually, we wanted to announce that we had found someone by the live of September 26th, but that wasn’t possible. We kept making songs and thought that if we could find a good vocalist, we would eventually make it. Then we had a talk about Mizuki, as Daisuke had played with him before, and Mizuki wasn’t playing music at that time. So, we asked him to sing our demo tapes and thought, “He would be good.” It was not like “Oh, he is good!” – it was more like “Um… I wonder if it would work?” He was living in Hokkaido, so we asked him to come to Tokyo and talked with him once, and things started from there. Then, Sei-chan (Seiichiro) and I thought “He is good.” (laughs)

Seiichirou: I’m a simple guy. (laughs)

NON-NON: So you clicked pretty quickly, right?

Seiichirou: Yes, that’s right. (laughs) I could feel that Mizuki wanted to sing, especially after such a long time. We didn’t want someone who would only sing our songs half-heartedly.

NON-NON: About how long was his hiatus from singing?

Mizuki: More than five years. I usually don’t go to karaoke, so I rarely had the occasion to sing.

NON-NON: But you had wanted to sing for a long time, right?

Mizuki: Yes.

NON-NON: When you sang songs that Yuta and Daisuke brought in, were you able to get into the songs smoothly?

Mizuki: Yes. I don’t pride myself on my voice, but I had been thinking that I could do something with my voice since my former band. I thought that if I sang, the songs could become better. When I listened to the songs on the demo tapes, I thought that they were great, even though I hadn’t sung them yet. I just felt a little unease about the fact that I had not yet talked with Sei-chan and Yutah that much, except when we met that one time; but I had a lot of confidence about the songs.

NON-NON: Did you make songs yourself?

Mizuki: Not at all. I’m just a normal member of society… (laughs)

NON-NON: So, you started to make music and lyrics after you started playing with them?

Mizuki: Yes.

NON-NON: All of the songs from the first album Needless Lyrics, which was released on May 13th, are wonderful with beautiful melodies. The lyrics really soak into your heart, so I think that a wide range of people can listen to them. I was surprised at the vocals, which had totally changed from the former band’s.

Mizuki: I had thought for a long time that something neutral would be rather popular, and more people of a wider age range could listen to them, just like how popular artists are usually females. When I was asked to play with them, I wanted to play too. And the songs were very good, so I was convinced that everything would go well. I’m very happy you felt that while listening to our songs.

Yutah: He is so positive for no reason at all.

All: (burst out laughing)

Yutah: When we hadn’t done anything, even when we hadn’t played together yet, he started to talk like, “We are already doing well! I am convinced this is going to be good!” (laughs) So I said, “What are you talking about? We haven’t even decided to play with you yet.” (laughs)

Seiichirou: (laughs)

Yuta: We didn’t have a lot of positivity until then, as we can be rather negative.

All: (burst out laughing)

NON-NON: I think Mizuki really clicked with you. You had known Daisuke prior to joining the band, hadn’t you?

Mizuki: Yeah… I knew about him… (laughs)

NON-NON: Your debut album Needless Lyrics was released on May 13th. About the composition of songs, Mizuki wrote lyrics for the songs which either Yutah or Daisuke composed. Did you exchange the music data with each another?

Yutah: Yes. Daisuke went back to Hokkaido for a while, and I was staying in Tokyo, so we exchanged music data with each other. The main songs were Period, Kirari and But I believe…., and these three songs were made around the time ACID ended. Then we could recognize the direction we wanted to go in. Other songs were made after that. There are eleven songs on this album, but we had a lot of songs besides those – but we chose them after it was determined that Mizuki would be our vocalist. I think that we made songs not knowing who would sing them, so that was quite difficult. For example, when you make songs for someone you know, it’s easier since you know his/her voice; but when you don’t, it’s harder as you don’t know the register of the vocalist and the key of his/her voice. For me, I really trusted the songs that Daisuke makes, so that helped me to work hard on mine too.

NON-NON: Mizuki, did you write lyrics after you listened to the songs?

Mizuki: Yes, with the songs that Yutah and Daisuke made. But there were also some songs where Daisuke sang by himself.

Yutah: In most of our cases, we put temporary lyrics to our melodies. We make songs almost completely, and we sing songs by ourselves. In the cases I could imagine, I put lyrics in by myself, so I put almost the same lyrics on the demo songs of Period and But I believe….. When I have clear images, I write by myself. But sometimes, I just put “lalala…” during the melodies. When I can’t imagine the lyrics, I ask Mizuki, “What do you think? Then, he might say, “I think I could write good lyrics,” so I leave them to Mizuki.

NON-NON: Wasn’t it hard to select songs? From about how many songs did you select the eleven songs?

Yutah: In my case, I make demo songs and choose songs by myself as I mull over what I could make the others listen to. I have many ideas. When I think “Ah, I hit on a good melody,” I record it, and I stock such melodies and guitar phrases. However, something I thought to be good at the time sometimes doesn’t sound so good later, so I leave them and listen to them once again, develop the images in my head and create the shape of a song. So, I had more ideas, but what I brought in to select from was actually… (turning to other members) not so much, right?

NON-NON: So choosing songs wasn’t so difficult?

Yutah: Yeah. I think I made and sang five other songs. Daisuke also made several more songs, and we selected eleven songs from them.

NON-NON: Were you able to determine the order of songs quickly?

Seiichiro: We thought about the order a lot. We had quite a few patterns, and any pattern seemed to be good. But we all decided on this order in the end.

NON-NON: Was the first track, The beginning~instrumental, made later?

Yutah: Actually, earlier. (laughs) You know the intro part of A letter to parents? When you open our homepage, it plays, and I made only that part first. But I thought I could make it better, so I worked on it, making it longer, and made the song A letter to parents.

NON-NON: How was the recording? Did it go smoothly? Did you have any funny episodes?

Daisuke: Problems… we had some. (laughs) Basically, we record by ourselves. Well, the episode that we had never had before was… the contents we had recorded disappeared. (laughs)

NON-NON: The data went away?

Daisuke: We saved them like, “We did it by ourselves, too!”

All: (burst out laughing)

NON-NON: Like, “We can get them back safely!” (laughs)

Daisuke: It was really good that we were able to recover and send them to you. (laughs)

Seiichirou: Each time, our recording period is very short. This time it was especially tight, and I had to play ten songs in two days. (laughs) I somehow managed to do it. I had various things that I wanted to try this time. As you know, there are different kinds of songs this time, from driving songs to soft ballads. So I changed the drum set song by song – that was a first for me.

NON-NON: Did you? Though you can’t do that in your lives, can you?

Seiichirou: No, I can’t. So I’m thinking about what I‘m going to do about lives. (laughs)

NON-NON: Well, you would be better having a bigger set, no?

Seiichirou: Yeah. And then I suppose it really comes down to this! (He slaps his arm.)

All: (burst out laughing)

NON-NON: I’m looking forward to seeing you then.

Yutah: They were different from the hard Western songs that we had played up until then. We didn’t intend to do it like that, it just happened. When it was determined that the vocalist would change, everything changed, and we got a stronger image. It’s natural that we shifted from doing only hard songs. For this album, it’s like we put eleven separate singles into one album, rather than trying to get a balance between all of the songs. For example, if the song was a ballad, we would concentrate on making a sound that was for a ballad. We didn’t try to match it to other songs on the album. I also experimented with using bass sounds: I usually only use one bass, but this time I used two.

NON-NON: You used piano, keyboard and other various sound effects; It feels like your sound has broadened.

Yutah: To be honest, I wanted to invite a pianist to be a member of the band because I put piano into demo tapes a lot. However, I didn’t want to invite too many people, but I thought it would be something different to have a pianist and another guitarist, making us a six member band. But recently, I also thought that the band would be better with fewer members, so I asked around for a good manipulator and we were introduced to Masaki, who is an acquaintance of Seiichirou, and let him listen to our demo tapes. We all went to his house to work with him on the piano and strings. I had never done such work until then, so it was really fresh. It made me wish that I played piano…(laughs)

NON-NON: I can really feel that you made the vocals stand out in each song, but did you change the way you played your instruments or how you listen to your music?

Seiichirou: I totally changed. I had played heavy songs up until now, but this time the musical approach was totally opposite, so it was hard, honestly speaking.

Yutah: I haven’t changed so much. I have never really played bass aggressively, but I basically make the vocalist stand out. My style is not to interfere with the vocals, but more to accent them. This time I thought about various things, but what I think we will have to focus on is that we haven’t played songs at our lives yet. Previously, we put songs which we had already done at lives onto our album. But this time, we played all of the songs in recording for the first time, so they still needed some shaping. When we played in rehearsal, I got the rough gist of the songs, but as I actually played them, I began to want to change things and do more, so I recorded many takes, which was kind of unexpected. It got to the point where I found it hard to decide which take to choose.

NON-NON: What about Daisuke?

Daisuke: Up until now we played as twin guitars, but I used more guitars this time than ever before. (laughs) I used four to six guitars on some songs. (laughs)

Seiichirou: We wonder about what we are going to do in our lives…. (laughs)

NON-NON: It could be good to keep things simple, right?

Daisuke: Yes. Basically, two guitars play the same thing, or four guitars play the same thing, and I add sounds that are similar, so I could play alone if I tried…..I think that I have many extra sounds that I don’t really need.

All: (burst out laughing)

NON-NON: What about Mizuki? Did you think about how you would sing each song?

Mizuki: Yes, but foremost I didn’t want to strain myself too much. Of course, I listened to music of ACID, and I knew that the members wanted to do something totally different, so I sang in a totally different way. I hadn’t sung for a while, so I recorded several times until I was satisfied, but I wasn’t really conscious about “I should sing this song like this.” But there is a larger scope on this album, from Kirari, which is a real driving song, to Namidagoe, which is a pure ballad. I just thought that if I could put in my taste, listeners would get to know my voice. Besides that, I cared about basic things, like “I shouldn’t sing out of tune” or “I have to care about the rhythm.”

NON-NON: I know you are a good singer.

Yutah: No~~~~ not yet.

All: (burst out laughing)

Yutah: We’ll train him.

NON-NON: Yutah, why did you come up with the song A letter to parents?

Yutah: This song was actually only going to be an intro. I think that when I made it, I had an image of Western music. When we listened to the intro, the image that came to us was like an advertisement for a movie or something (laughs), so I almost put in English lyrics because I thought English lyrics would be better for this song. And then around that time, I just happened to go back to my parents’ home, and I talked with my mother about various things we had experienced over time. Then I felt that my mother was somehow small. I know that sounds rude, but I realized that she won’t always be around. Another 20 to 30 years, perhaps? When I talked about my memories, I couldn’t remember many things except bad things, unfortunately. When I was a teenager, I fought with my parents, and actually I was pretty bad, so when I talked with them, I couldn’t rea


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