Be With! Vol. 94 (June 2012)

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Be With! » Be With! Vol. 94 (June 2012)
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Be With! Volume 94 is the June 2012 issue for the band's official fanclub magazine, first mailed out to B'z PARTY members in July 2012. This issue covers a wide range of contemporary happenings around the band, including their collaboration with Korean artist Kim Hyun Joong on the song "HEAT", their plans for their then-upcoming North American tour B'z LIVE-GYM 2012 -Into Free-, the band's charity efforts to support victims of the recent Japanese earthquake, and the filming of the Pepsi NEX commercial for "Love Bomb". In addition, Tak provides self-liner notes for his album Strings Of My Soul, which had been released just prior to the publication.

B'z Interview

Interviewer:

In the last interview, we talked about B’z first U.S. single “Into Free -Dangan”, so today we would like to focus on things that have happened since then. First of all, please tell us about your collaboration with Kim Hyun Joong.
Tak:

We received an offer from Universal and gladly accepted. It all came about smoothly and I think we produced a good song. It gives off a typical B’z sound.
Koshi:

We met him for the first time when we were filming the music video for “GO FOR IT BABY -Kioku no Sanmyaku-”. We talked about what kind of music style he likes, but we mostly just greeted each other.
Tak:

Koshi was going to take some time off right after the filming, so he talked to him immediately. I continued filming while they were talking. When Koshi was finished talking to him, I thought Kim Hyun Joong would go home, but he was actually waiting for me. "What a candid guy," I thought. Filming took a little longer than expected, so he waited for me. As a result, I also got to meet him and we talked a little about the melody of the song.



Interviewer:

Did you write the lyrics and compose the music to fit Kim Hyun Joong’s image?
Koshi:

We went about it just as we usually do. Of course, we kept in mind that he would be singing the song instead, but the way we produced the song was basically the same as always.
Tak:

When we thought about how we’d do it, we thought it’d be good to produce something everyone would think of as a B’z song. We won’t release our own version this time, though.
Koshi:

Would be cool to play it live, I think.
Tak:

There are also English lyrics, aren’t there?
Koshi:

There are English lyrics for the chorus, but I think the Japanese lyrics sound good.



Interviewer:

Weren’t you going to bring in some Korean pop culture?
Koshi:

No. (laughs)
Tak:

Not at all. He said if he wanted something like that, he wouldn’t have chosen us. (laughs) But what we had to do was decrease the key as his voice is deeper than Koshi's. That way, his voice will come out. I think it’s good like that.



Interviewer:

For a man, Kim Hyun Joong’s voice can hit a very high key, right?
Koshi:

He can also hit higher notes easily. His vocal range is not narrow.
Tak:

Not narrow at all, that’s right. That’s basically because I am used to Koshi's voice.



Interviewer:

I noticed that the B’z sound really comes out during the guitar solo.
Tak:

As expected, that’s where I had to use the signature B'z sound.



Interviewer:

Concerning the lyrics Koshi had to write, did Kim Hyun Joong request any special motives to be included in the song's lyrics?
Koshi:

He didn’t have any special requests as far as story and meaning go. However, he pointed out a couple of words that he found hard to pronounce, so we changed those as he was singing. I think it was fine overall. He had his own concerns, but when we listened to it, you could hear that it’s not his native language. We could make out a couple of sections where he really tried hard to sing in Japanese and we debated if we should change those. Those are the times we changed things.



Interviewer:

But I’ve seen that difficult expressions such as “乱れる宵(midareru yoi)” are in the lyrics.
Koshi:

Japanese people won’t use such an expression, but it’s easy to sing. I think you can still sing it without having to worry too much about its meaning.



Interviewer:

Did he receive advice regarding his pronunciation?
Koshi:

I gave him advice when it’d sound awkward when we listened back to it. That’s what we agreed upon. I thought he could sing in Japanese very well although he doesn’t speak it at all.



Interviewer:

He doesn’t speak Japanese?
Tak:

He doesn’t speak much. That’s why he always had a translator with him when we talked.



Interviewer:

His pronunciation was good considering he doesn’t speak Japanese, right?
Koshi:

That’s true. At first, the producer who was working with him was singing and when I listened to it, I thought it sounded good and that he could do the same.



Interviewer:

How did the recording go?
Tak:

As always, we composed the song in our studio. He told me his key and I gave him directions for the vocals. But it’s hard to work when the two of us are around, so I went home early.



Interviewer:

So you recorded Kim Hyun Joong’s vocals in Japan as well. Why did you decide to be part of the recording process, too?
Tak:

That’s because I always want to play my own songs myself.
Koshi:

That’s just how it went, I think. I also got the feeling that it wouldn’t be bad if we were involved only a little. They also agreed to it, so we gave some advice here and there.



Interviewer:

When we interviewed him for the fanclub magazine, he told us that B’z songs are also popular in Korea.
Koshi:

One of their staff members wanted me to sign one of his CDs. He was working with us all day in a professional manner and when we were on our way home, he suddenly showed me the CD. He really held back until the last minute. (laughs) And the CD was really old! It wasn’t one of our recent releases at all! “Pleasure” and such.
Tak:

Let’s perform in Korea. We’ve already made an impression, after all.
Koshi:

I haven’t been there yet, so I’d love to go there for business!
Tak:

I’d love to do that, too.



Interviewer:

You haven’t been to Korea yet?
Tak:

Not even once!
Koshi:

I don’t really have a reason to go there. Usually you’d go there to taste the food? Girls usually go there to do some shopping and such.



Interviewer:

Korean cosmetics seem to be very popular.
Koshi:

That wouldn't be a reason for me to go to Korea.
Tak:

And isn’t it popular for plastic surgery now?
Koshi:

Is Korea really better than Japan for that?



Interviewer:

It might just be a difference in perception...
Tak:

You can read about it very regularly. That people without a medical license do it over there. So maybe they go there because it’s cheap?
Koshi:

Really? Isn’t Japan good enough for that? What if I went to Korea, had surgery, got back home and my face looked completely different? What would I do?
Everybody:

(laughs)
Koshi:

It’d be twice as bad when I said that I hadn't done anything. (laughs)



Interviewer:

You frequently work with people from Europe and America, but this time you were working with people from Asia. Did you find any things you have in common?
Tak:

We didn’t really take our relationship that far.
Koshi:

We didn’t even have dinner with them.
Tak:

But, he was a really nice person.
Koshi:

He’s really young. But he was relatively behaving like an adult and he was very polite. It was also very quiet when he was singing. Nonetheless, he was getting really excited and when we listened to what he produced, his voice seems to have reached new heights.
Tak:

I liked it. It was very good!



Interviewer:

The next topic of discussion would be the DVD release of B’z LIVE-GYM 2011 -C’mon-. The ending sequence included the MC from the show in Miyagi, right?
Koshi:

This tour was undoubtedly special. It was just that kind of tour. As the DVD was meant to be a representation of the tour itself, that part just had to be on the DVD.



Interviewer:

”Brotherhood”, a song you performed on the tour, was also playing during the ending sequence. Has it become a special song for you two now?
Tak:

I think so. After having seen the reception by fans during our performance on Music Station and on tour, the song itself has become special to us. It may also be because of the earthquake...



Interviewer:

Can you tell us about the donations you’ve made with the money you collected by selling charity merchandise during the tour one more time? What are the two organizations you donated money to?
Koshi:

Before the donations, it was going to be the Red Cross, but it’s going to take some time until the money reaches the people and we had no way of knowing where the money would go. Everybody thought that way. After the tour, we looked at what kind of organizations were out there. Among those, we chose the ones who have made an impression on us and donated the money to them.
Tak:

Actually, we wanted to give the money to help children. They will have to carry the burden of our country for the years to come. All the people who are helping to rebuild our country right now will age in the process, right? It’s going to take some time to rebuild everything. We should always place importance on the next generation.
Koshi:

And senior people don’t have the strength to do it.



Interviewer:

Are you planning to continue your efforts to help the earthquake victims?
Tak:

We weren’t just going to help last year and this year, but instead be sure to help in the long run. We will continue to do all that we can.



Interviewer:

Moving on, please tell us about the meaning of the tour title B’z LIVE-GYM 2012 -Into Free-.
Koshi:

I’ve given it a lot of thought, but I couldn’t come up with an explanation. (laughs) Whenever it's time to come up with a title, I try to think of a cool one, though. This time, we’ve released “Into Free -Dangan-”, so people will recognize it. And it also perfectly matched the image I wanted to convey. I asked a lot of people overseas and got a lot of different opinions. I think it’ll be the same no matter what language you choose.



Interviewer:

When were plans made to tour this year?
Tak:

It was decided a long time ago. Last year, we decided to tour again this year.



Interviewer:

Were you anxious to tour overseas?
Koshi:

Not at all these days. (laughs) Every time I get back to L.A., I need to be able to relax.
Tak:

It’s different than being in Japan.
Koshi:

We get on a plane a lot, right?
Tak:

And since it’s such a big country, it takes some time to get from one place to another, right? We also accounted for the possibility that planes run late. That’s why the shows start later than usual.



Interviewer:

That’s just because you’re used to playing at an earlier time, right? (laughs) By the way, there’s currently a wall with a lot of B’z posters in L.A. Have you seen it?
Tak:

I haven’t seen it. (Looks at a picture of the wall) Ah, the poster that’s been hanging on our wall in the office! Looks good!



Interviewer:

It was designed in L.A. It gives off a different feeling than posters produced in Japan, right?
Koshi:

Yeah. I can’t seem to get used to it.
Tak:

I was just looking at it and got the feeling it’s a lot different from the ones in Japan. It depends on the perception even when you use the same picture you’ve taken in Japan.



Interviewer:

No details regarding your live performance have been unveiled yet, but you are probably going to add a lot of English songs to the set list?
Koshi:

I think we’re definitely going to do that. I don’t think that all songs will be in English, though.



Interviewer:

Are you thinking about debuting new English songs at the shows?
Tak:

We’re considering it.



Interviewer:

Would you like to record more songs in English?
Koshi:

I’d love to do it if I have the time and motivation to do it.



Interviewer:

I see. Was there any difference in reaction to the songs you played overseas and in Japan last year?
Koshi:

I don’t remember. I remember that people from overseas were excited and singing in Japanese. At first I felt uncomfortable with the fact that people from overseas were singing in Japanese. (laughs) I’m pretty sure the person saw me looking surprised at him. And then he was trying to appeal to me in a “I can sing in Japanese!” kind of fashion. (laughs) But that’s great! That person is great!



Interviewer:

So these kind of people have been there, too, I see. We also offered a travel package for fanclub members for the show in L.A. and the “Dangan Course” (quick, short trip) was very popular among people who couldn’t take Saturday off, and since October 8th is a public holiday in Japan, it posed a great opportunity to get back that day.
Koshi:

Getting back to Japan in the morning, huh? I guess that should work if you can sleep on the plane.
Tak:

Well, if you can get to sleep on the plane.
Koshi:

But, that’s kind of impossible unless you’re from Tokyo. Quite impressive.



Interviewer:

Have you also done any short-term travel?
Tak:

I used to do it all the time a long time ago. In Japan, I would get around by performing live and when I got back to Tokyo, I’d go back to recording stuff. Good old days.



Interviewer:

Have you done it when going overseas?
Koshi:

I had to do it one time when I didn’t have enough time to check out the equipment and such for the L.A. studio.
Tak:

Oh, the times when you went there in shifts! (laughs)
Koshi:

I went there and came back home immediately afterward. That was really a short trip. I just went over there to take care of that one thing, so I didn’t have much time.
Tak:

That was really terrible! I went in his stead after that. Deciding on the furniture and everything.



Interviewer:

So no matter how you put it, it was a business trip after all?
Tak:

Yeah.
Koshi:

Are there really people doing short trips as a hobby? All the people they’re showing on TV are on a business trip, aren’t they? (laughs)



Interviewer:

Travel agencies also seem to have sold such travel packages.
Koshi:

Can people really get excited for the trip if it’s such a short time!? They’ll get home and feel like nothing happened. The “Dangan Course” includes a night’s stay, right?



Interviewer:

Yes. But there are also people who get on a plane back home right after the concert.
Koshi:

They’re really going home right after the concert!?
Tak:

They’re just going home like that after the show!?
Koshi:

Just like with far off cities in Japan! Amazing!
Tak:

So, they should be able to meet up with fellow fans on the plane! Since they’re getting on the same one and have shared the same memories that night.
Koshi:

Isn’t that good? Sounds fun!



Interviewer:

And soon the filming for the new Pepsi NEX commercial will commence. The song for the commercial is going to be “Love Bomb”, I see.
Koshi:

We were working on “Love Bomb” and we had to choose a song that was fitting for the next installment of the Pepsi NEX commercials. There was already talk of an English song, and it was also right before our North American tour.



Interviewer:

So “Love Bomb” is the English version of “Ai no Bakudan”. Have you changed the lyrics?
Koshi:

We changed them. But it didn’t take us that much time to get it all together for “Love Bomb”.



Interviewer:

When did you start composing the song?
Koshi:

We started at the beginning of the year.



Interviewer:

Did you add pronounciation checks to the recording process?
Koshi:

It’s not like we added it! I think it’s because of Shane’s attitude. He always says “endure it”, “endure it”, “endure it”. (laughs)



Interviewer:

You were probably getting stressed very much because of this?
Koshi:

Yeah. I think so. (laughs) But it can’t be helped, I guess. Every person goes about their work in a different way.



Interviewer:

When you produce an English version of a Japanese song, do you change the arrangement?
Tak:

We usually don’t change much. There were times when I was changing bits here and there for English versions on my end, but I didn’t do it at all for “HOME”. I did some changes for “Into Free -Dangan-” where I modified the acoustic guitar part to bring it out more. I also reworked the general balance of the song.



Interviewer:

Speaking of which, you’re also doing two performances as part of Pepsi’s campaign this year.
Koshi:

A lot of people are going to buy Pepsi again to collect points, yeah. Last year, they told us to drink Pepsi while on stage, but I completely forgot about it! I shall remember to do it this time!
Tak:

Let’s drink it on stage this year!



Interviewer:

Last year, Suntory didn’t have any requests concerning the set list. Therefore, you were able to choose the songs you’d like to play freely. Were you able to do the same this time?
Tak:

Yeah. More or less. We have to take them into consideration, though. (laughs)



Interviewer:

Like wearing T-shirts and such?
Koshi:

Yeah. Let’s wear T-shirts!



Interviewer:

You’ve seen yourselves in commercials countless times. Isn’t there a time when it was a strange experience?
Koshi:

When I see it in the streets or at a vending machine.
Tak:

These commercials aren’t any different from the music videos we were filming, so not at all. But actually, I’ve seen it on a vending machine for the first time.
Koshi:

I really get to feel the strength of commercials when I see those pictures on the vending machine. Like, that they’re even in such a place! They’re in a lot of places you wouldn’t expect them to be.



Interviewer:

From a worldwide perspective, it would seem you’re pursuing an aggressive marketing strategy.
Everybody:

(laughs)
Koshi:

I haven’t heard anybody recently say that we’re aggressive. (laughs)



Interviewer:

Do people tell you things like, “I see the advertisements really often”?
Tak:

I heard it a couple of times last year, when they had that picture of us at the train station.



Interviewer:

The one at Shibuya Station was really huge, after all. From here on out, you’re going to be busy with the Pepsi NEX live performances and the North American tour, so please detail your current situation and give a message to the fans.
Tak:

My...work situation...isn’t the best at the moment.



Interviewer:

But you just released a new solo album, didnt’t you!
Koshi:

Now that’s what I call aggressive! (laughs)
Tak:

Nah, but—for a long time—time passed and I made only a little progress.
Koshi:

Looking at it, we’ve finished our tour, released the DVD and then you released your solo album right after! That’s an aggressive Matsumoto. Matsumoto “Aggressive” Takahiro, I say! (laughs)
Tak:

Aggressive Matsumoto, eh! And we also produced the song for Kim Hyun Joong.
Koshi:

You’re so busy! Always on the move!
Tak:

I was also on Anna Tsuchiya’s CD at the beginning of the year. I’m really aggressive! I’m looking forward to meeting you all, guys!



Interviewer:

Aren’t you overdoing it a bit? (laughs)
Tak:

It’s wild, right?
Everybody:

(laughs)
Koshi:

We’ll get to meet people overseas soon. I hope it’s going to be a fun journey!



Interviewer:

Thank you for your time today.
Tak & Koshi:

Thank you very much.

Tak Matsumoto Interview on "Strings Of My Soul"

Strings Of My Soul Photo Shoot Report

Strings Of My Soul Self Liner Notes

Q & A Corner

Interview with Kim Hyun Joong