A four-man rock band that boasts a persistent popularity both domestically and internationally: “Plastic Tree”, whose talents in music mixing a wide range of genres from British rock, grunge, punk rock, alternative rock to folk music have garnered a highest reputation since its debut. Into the 26th anniversary, its power to churn out songs not restrained in the least by the age is still there for you to be engrossed in! Plastic Tree has finally completed its first CD album in the past two years: “Jussyoku Teiri” (literally meaning “theorem of 10 colors”), one made with an advantage that all of its members can write lyrics & compose that comes with a variety of expressions. All of them, Ryutaro Arimura (VO & G), Tadashi Hasegawa (B), Akira Nakayama (G) and Kenken Sato (Dr) have gathered to talk about their passion inspired into the CD album for us.
For this CD album, each member of our band has created songs on his own (Tadashi Hasegawa).
Q (interviewer): Your new album, first in the past two years, “Jusshoku Teiri” is finally released! We’ve waited for long!
H (Hasegawa): We really haven’t intended to make you wait, though…
A (Arimura): We had released two single-CD albums before this one; I don’t feel we’ve been “away” for such a long time.
H: We are a band that offers a lot of concert tours along with production; whenever we “feel like creating another album”, we do.
Q: I don’t think your style of production has changed so dramatically. But the album contains 8 pieces exclusive to it in total with each member having created 2 pieces. Have you intentionally allocated that way?
H: Our style in production hasn’t changed much, basically, as each of us creates his own and then we compile the album with them gathered.
Q: But each member of your band has shared a certain theme in creating his songs, hasn’t he?
H: For our previous work, “doorAdore”, we had something like a roadmap at the onset. For example, the first in it came like that, so the next one should be like that, with such a “plot” in mind. For the latest work, however, we haven’t had such an idea, indeed leaving making of songs to each member. Volume-wise, we agreed that 10 or so would be nice: 2 by each plus 2 existing single ones would amount to 10, flatly.
Q: Sounds like division on addition and subtraction. Then, what are the “points” in making of songs by each of your members? Tadashi, please, who created the first piece, “Amanojaku” (meaning “too haphazard a personality”).
H: As I did composition for two of the single ones, I attempted to elicit more of my own colors for the latest album.
Q: I’ve definitely felt that. The beginning part of “Amanojaku” is ever dramatic, reminiscent of Pink Floyd; “Swing Noir” is full of British tastes…
H: Namely, the “music” I wanted to perform in our band, which should be the same thing for other members of our band, a feeling that I had when I listened to theirs.
Q: I’ve got an impression that Akira sometimes releases “unexpected” ones but for this album, your “Medusa” and “Light.Gentle.and Soul.” are both catchy (authentic).
N (Nakayama): Well…, I felt that I had created “such cool” songs. Two years had passed since the previous album; but I myself didn’t know that much time had passed. And I was surprised when I found out that I didn’t create any for that long and felt “obligated” to come up with new ones. I was super-confident when I was done with mine, like a junior-school student done with his creative homework during summer break or I hadn’t expected mine to be this good! Or something like that. Anyway, I tried not to be too logical but depended on my sixth sense thinking that I could redo it if I failed.
Q: I also have an impression that Kenken’s “remain” and “Tsuki Ni Negai Wo” (literally meaning “making a wish upon the moon”) are completely filled with Plastic Tree’s originality.
S (Sato): I’m not sure. But I created songs as if in a “niche industry”.
Q: What do you mean by “niche industry”?
S: I mean, I wanted to create songs that others wouldn’t.
Q: Understood! But it should be, in turn, one of Plastic Tree’s greatest strengths.
S: I think that as arrangement itself is done by all of our members, our band’s uniqueness will come out in it.
Q: Your “Tsuki Ni Negai Wo” is quite impressive for its steadfast style among all the songs in the album, outstanding in that respect.
S: I thought we needed one with a rhythm like this… But music itself was what I had stocked or existed already.
Q: You’ve intentionally shifted to ones different from the other in the album, haven’t you? Well, how about you, Ryutaro? I’ve heard that it took you a sizable amount of time in producing your part…
A (Arimura): I think there are few who wouldn’t have to spend much time on writing lyrics. But I did much faster than usual, though I had some problems figuring out details as I do always. I approached two of my songs in the album differently in their lyrics.
Q: What’s the difference?
A: I wrote lyrics for “C.C.C” rather focused on its “ambience”. I did as if I had been “keeping a diary” because the song’s background or landscape was easier to imagine that way. For “End Roll”, I wanted to make one with “a story” and wrote its lyrics rather objectively like narration, as the entire album seemed like an editioned series of episodes. My own feelings have been inspired into both of them, of course.
Q: Did you plan to place “End Roll” at the end of your album?
A: I myself didn’t intend to put it at the last in creating it; it was Tadashi who decided on it. So, while I was writing out its lyrics, I slightly “changed the direction” of it to be suited for the last one. To feel like an “afterword” or one that would tell the end of it as its title, “End Roll” suggests.
Q: Did you start with a title as “End Roll” for it?
A: No. But the song included “End Roll” in its lyrics anyway, and I named it so, as it would come at the end of the album, which I though would be the best.
Q: Convinced. It also is finely reminiscent of Plastic Tree’s “origin”; many of your fans would love this.
A: Right. I very much love it as my latest and it is very important for me and our band.
Q: I didn’t quite understand what “C.C.C” meant at first, but it signifies “adjectives”: for example, “happy” or “sad” (in Japanese, these adjectives entail C sound at their tail).
A: I had an image of “fun” in the song itself, as my own impression. So, I wanted my fans to enjoy our live concert on it “roughly” (relaxed) and gave it the title. Its sound is Manchester-like or something that would be aired in the opening of “BEAT UK” (a music program aired at midnight in 1990s). When it was complete, it turned out to be like an alternative rock’s.
I guess that as our latest CD album is fairly complete in its sound sources, fans may be looking forward to our live concerts based on it (Ryutaro Arimura).
Q: As a result, the album’s contents are fitted to its title, “Jushoku Teiri”, with personalities of each member reflected in it.
A: The album’s title has come from an idea of Tadashi’s. There is a word, “Yonshoku Teiri” (four-color), but I replaced it with “ten”, which I hope would tell everything about us, a factor important enough for us to narrow it down to 10, by number.
Q: In my personal opinion, a CD album is balanced when containing 10 pieces or so.
H: Right. I don’t personally like an album that would take a longer time to listen to, from its beginning to end, either, which should be the same thing for anticipating listeners (fans), or something that would consume your “energy”. For this one, I thought 10 pieces or so by size would be appropriate as an analogue one, in which we wanted to express what we were now.
Q: You’d feel like listening to it all over again for 10 pieces.
H: Yes, as about right.
Q: By the way, is there any song created by other members that you think has “outdone” yours or been “too artistic” to understand?
N: A tough, or good, question. This has been our “system” of sort… Well, I have seen some, but this time its production process was fairly streamlined. As it is titled “Jussyoku Teiri”, some such “differences” or uniqueness could be tolerated. If it were “Isshoku Teiri” (one-color), it would have been indeed tough to integrate, but this one is good enough for its assortments.
H: In sum, the album has gathered pieces that each one of our members only could create; in that respect, we may have “surprised” each. I myself thought I couldn’t have created what they did, which is at once our band’s strength and uniqueness.
S: For me, it should be “C.C.C”, if any. For most of pieces, a short MV was taken, while for C.C.C, a full version was shot, which is impressive to me. Tadashi’s “Swing Noir” would be interesting in our live concert; Akira’s “Medusa” is so cool that we thought it should be also made a single CD album when we listened to it for the first time.
A: They’ve said it all… As we have created innumerable songs for Plastic Tree, there are many with uniqueness of each member, but this album has those “evolving” for each. Among all, what I feel is rather new to our band are “Medusa” and “Amanojaku”. Because we hadn’t had songs like Medusa, so far, we pretty much were excited with and enjoyed recording of it too; I am also looking forward to it played in a live-concert setting, one which Tadashi only could create through pursuing his worldviews to reach this melody, a great work indeed.
Q: A song with a sense of “scale” like “Amnojaku” coming at the onset is also impactful.
H: Honestly, I created it thinking that the first piece for the album should be something like that. But with all of them complete, I thought any of them would be fitted as the first one; the “order” was thus a difficult decision to make. In hindsight, I think I’ve made it rather “freely”, out of my own will. I’d be glad if listers felt that they don’t know “where they’d be taken”, listening to it.
Q: For sure, I’ve wondered where I’d be taken listening to it. But any order would do, I believe.
H: Of course, we may change the order in playing for a live concert. As our tours for it will just begin, we’ll narrow down what we want to do, further.
Q: I am looking forward to how your new songs will be performed in your next tour, “Plastic Spring Tour 2020, “Jyusshoku Teiri”.
H: For our band, we’ve obtained new materials to express in our live concerts; the rest is how each member should grapple with it.
N: I just want to have fun in them!
S: Indeed! But it is rather hard to play Akira’s, every time.
N: Most of them are tough to perform, as it has turned out.
A: I am anticipating our live concerts anyways as each piece is worth pursuing and basically pieces will be completed though concerts. I expect in person that as their sound sources are fairly complete, fans will be able to enjoy them. Most of them seem hard to play, admittedly, though.
Q: My personal hope is that you’ll not just do your best in coming one-man tours but also “deepen” the album in “time-tested” tours, in the future.
A: We’ll think about that later. For the coming spring tour, we’ll play in 10 venues as the title of “Jusshoku Teiri” suggests, where we want to find possibilities that other bands wouldn’t with a concept of an album “completed in the field”. While we are still seeking for what to do, the album made so far should be vey exciting and fans can fully enjoy it, I hope.
[Interviewed and written by Atsushi Kaie]
My recommended spot in Japan
Ryutaro Arimura: Fujisan
Because it’s beautiful.
Tadashi Hasagawa: Kyoto
Because Japanese traditional and cultural beauties are everywhere!
Akira Nakayama: Nihonshu (Japanese Sake)
Because most everyone in the world would love Sake.
Kenken Sato: Nagasaki
The city has a lot of places fitted for sightseeing, where you can learn and enjoy yourself at the same time.
Latest CD Album by Plastic Tree
Produced by Victor
Regular version (with CD only)
3,000 yen (+ tax)
On sale as of 25th March 2020