ANN Tamashii no Radio - Zankyo Album
New Album 「残響」Zankyo: Q&A
Extract from ANN TamaRadi Blog 2009.06.23 and 2009.06.24:
When did you decide on the concept of this album? (Sou-chan)
F: “When we started to work on it. I already had the melodies, just needed to fill in the lyrics. The only way I could do it, was to work on the lyrics for each song one by one. I think I began last Autumn, and could see the structure for the entire album by the start of this year.
Difficulties during the process? (Sou-chan)
F: Just like in Evangelion, the moment you’re inside the entry plug, you start interfacing with your Eva, right?* Writing lyrics is the same, the beginning like the merging process (in Eva), is really painful! But once you get in the flow, it becomes much easier. Before that though….
At the “interface point” in writing the lyrics, it all depends on how honest I can be with myself: Is this what I really want to say (in my song)? Was it buttered up? Did I think too much? Are these my true feelings and thoughts? All these are the criteria that will determine whether I’m able to “achieve synchronization”*. Can I open up my heart and make it as straightforward as I can? That is the issue.
So the concept of the album was decided as I was writing the lyrics. When I debut at 21 years old, I thought that a 40-year old artist must be so mature, what songs would they be singing? I was very interested to know at that time. One type would let you feel “Yes! He’s being very truthful” but another type is “He sounds like he’s hiding something….” As a listener, thinking about it objectively, “When the 40-year old Fukuyama Masaharu releases his album, what songs do I want to hear him sing?” Of course, nice and popular songs are very important, but it’s not so simple………a 40-year old man, what can he sense, what does he feel? Is he creating too intentionally? ………I want to present my true feelings out.
The theme of this album - to clearly communicate the basics of the 40-year old Fukuyama Masaharu
F: Yes. Because we’re grown-ups, it’s hard for us to admit it when there are things we don’t understand, right? (laugh)…….. we don’t show our troubles; confusion or anxieties to others, we try our hardest to be a team player. Even though it’s a beautiful thing to work so hard, however…….let’s say we have a very strong-tempered boss, but every time he goes out drinking with us, he loses all his stature, aren’t there some people like this? Well, there might be other bosses who never lose their dignity even when they’re drunk, or those who never even let themselves get drunk and are always looking out for their sub-ordinates…..
But when you think about which type of superior lets you feel more at ease to be with, it’ll probably be the imperfect boss who totally ruins his own image when he’s drunk, right? We’d think: “He seems so brilliant normally, but he can be like that too!” **
When he’s reached the age of those actors he used to see on TV when he was a kid, Fukuyama-san seems to have figured out a couple of things:
F: As I get older, I thought that I would have finished developing……in areas like my character and personality etc. Although I’m already 40, I found it’s not like what I had thought! Now I believe that there is no way we can ever complete our development?! What does “completed” mean? What does the saying “Once we are an adult, we would become mature” actually mean?” I have started rethinking these questions.
I guess we do mature when we become an adult. Although there will always be things we do not understand, but the things we do comprehend have indeed increased. And we’ll become better at managing and handling various matters. But at the same time, we cannot hide our weaknesses and helplessness. In the course of the creation of this album, what (frustrations) did I feel about the incomplete portion of the songs? I used that feeling as part of the theme as well!
What he thought about the songs:
F: At the beginning when I started to write the lyrics, I was questioning myself. That’s what singer-songwriters need to do, to face up to ourselves and reflect on our own feelings and weaknesses. So the contents would tend to be rather grey. If I had to look closely at myself and my past, I wouldn’t think of the happy things. “Oh, that was great! That time was fantastic!” Memories like this would have been totally forgotten. I belong to that era, I always want to apologise to people (laugh)!
It never crossed my mind that once I become an adult, I would be thinking so much of my regrets. Having said that, I do realize that we cannot go back and I haven’t stopped moving forward because of this. But of course, I’m human, so some regret will always be imprinted in my heart: that I haven’t apologised; that I’ve done something really bad etc. But I can’t be held up because of this, I must face the future. I want to live a life that will help to ease the regrets I have, I guess everyone wants to be happy and to have hope.
In this regard, I have come to a conclusion in the new songs. That all of them should end on a hopeful note, I don’t think that is necessary. I started having this belief when I was writing the lyrics. In the past, whenever I write a song, I would try to steer it towards a hope at the end. But now, I feel it’s fine if I don’t insist on it anymore. We can still end a song on uncertainty, on the inability to see what is ahead. Of course, it’s essential that we must still hold onto our dreams and hopes for the future, but sometimes that might not happen. Some people might decide to have to face reality after all because they feel their dreams are hard to achieve. Perhaps they may be unable to hold their heads up high as they move on. So what can we do if we feel we are unable to look to the future with hope? I think there’s nothing wrong with staying like that (with sadness).
That doesn’t mean the new album is all full of depressing songs! (laugh) I just don’t think it’s necessary to force a hopeful ending onto every single matter.
Using “Zankyo” (Reverberations/Echoes in the Heart) as the main theme for the album:
F: When I was writing with this in mind, the number of songs tied in to my hometown naturally increased. I started thinking about using “Me and My Hometown” as the key topic, in the middle of the process. I had used “Zankyo” before. Perhaps I was already subconsciously planning for the new album at the Nagasaki Photo stage last stage. And when I tried to fit “Zankyo” in with the theme of the album, it was just right for it!
About the new song “18 ~eighteen~”
F: This is a song about myself at 18 years old; the 40-year-old me looking back at myself at 18; and also about myself now. This is the only song todate, amongst the songs I have written about Nagasaki, that is most able to describe her completely.
S: Because I was laughing as I was watching all those re-enacted videos in the Budokan, I didn’t really feel it until you sang this song. Then all the scenes came back to me and I was very touched.
F: ………..I spent a lot of effort planning it………I really thought it through! (laugh)
I used the guitar Kuwata-san gave me for my birthday, to play this song.
“Love, injuries and goodbyes, they were all my first time”
…….yes, I guess when it comes to our hometown, everyone will have a couple sad memories in their heart. That’s because a lot of those memories are of our first-time experiences. Many of our firsts happened in our hometown. Even when they are ghosts of the past, they still sting you like needles. Even when they should be long forgotten, they still remain in your heart.
And our hometown is bound to change, there is nothing we can do about it. Not just our hometown but the whole world is changing. It’s good to have changes, but I still hope that it can be kept exactly the same. Of course, the residents will want to have progress and development, but my wish for my hometown to stay the same and other thoughts that have stayed close to my heart all these years, I can finally write them out now.
The melody for “18~eighteen~” was completed 15 years ago. When I was writing for the “BOOTS” album, I only had the words “My Hometown” written down. What did I want to sing about? What did I want to sing to my hometown about?………….I was only able to figure it out recently (laugh). I’m sure I could have completed the lyrics for the song then, but it would have turned out to be a totally different song. In fact, I’m actually thankful that I didn’t finish it at that time. I think the one that I’ve written now, should be better!
* Neon Genesis Evangelion. Classic, need I say more?
** He probably meant that people are imperfect. That’s what life really is. So this album will deal with the imperfections of life: desperation, sadness, guilt etc.
Translated from Fukuyama Honne (Articles 6058 & 6085)
Based on the original post in ANN TamaRadi blog 2009-06-23 & 2009-06-24
This English translation was first posted on MashaPlus [dot] Info Forums. (Registration required to enter.)