Rolling Stone Japan interview [15/03/2017]

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This interview was published on Rolling Stone Japan’s website around Furubokko’s release. It was sitting in my backlog for too much time, just like 95% of BUTAOTOME interviews. Now, here it is! Main topics are the usual formation stuff, how the major debut impacted the Pig and how things changed over the course of the years, some production stuff about Furubokko and health.

Warning: for unknown reasons, this interview has been taken down, and I can’t find any archived version online except for the first part. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep the entire script, just the translated lines at the time (which wasn’t a lot anyway). If you have it, I would appreciate it if you could send it to me.

“If only I could have one reason to live tomorrow”

First of all, could you please tell me again the story of your formation?
Comp: Originally, I wanted to create a circle to make something fun. So, Ranko no Ane was my drinking companion, Paprika was another companion, and then I thought that with the four of us, plus Ranko, we might have been able to do what I thought we should do.

How do you feel about looking back at the formation of the group from its inception?
Comp: To say that time went fast is an understatement. When I notice that we’ve made a lot of CDs and lots of lives, I feel that it’s been 7 years.
Ranko: It was really a blink of time (laughs).

This time you made your major debut with the mini-album “Furubokko”, but what does “major debut” mean for the band called BUTAOTOME? For example, was it one of your goals or passing points?
Comp: For us, it is neither a goal nor a passing point. The reason we made a major debut is that we wanted to borrow the power to realize what we want to do even more. So far we worked under the concept of “doing something fun” and had various challenges, but even if we want to do more, it’s impossible to do with just the power of the four of us. For example, among the things we want to do one day during our lives, there is “flying by using wires”; we tried it in various ways, but it’s something we can’t do in any legal way. But there are those who can fly, so we need to negotiate with people in order for us to fly. Besides flying, we also kinda wanted to cook during the live, but there is not even a fire law. At that time, I wanted to join a tag with a major in order to realize the performances we want to do.
Ranko: I used to call the livehouse to get a box and I was pretty coldly treated and I felt the limits of doing it by ourselves. Comp, Paprika, and my sister too, since each member has many things to do, I also thought that it would be nice if there was someone to help us with what we wanted to do, so in that sense, I think the major debut is good.

Here is something I’m going to ask you again, but why did you choose a name like “BUTAOTOME”, which is a band name you can’t really forget once you hear it?
Comp: At the time of naming, the four of us gathered, and we thought about sharing all of our ideas anyway. So, we all come up with “Geroshabu”, “Oketsu Climax” and “Butaotome”. Geroshabu is a word that originally comes from the manga “Sexy Commando Gaiden: Sugoi yo!! Masaru-san”, so we excluded it. At last, we were really undecided between Oketsu Climax and Butaotome, and BUTAOTOME was. Since it was until the very end, perhaps we would have been named Oketsu Climax.

Did you come up with all three of those names, Comp?
Comp: “Geroshabu” and “Oketsu Climax” were Ranko no Ane’s ideas, “Butaotome” was my idea.
The only limits I gave to myself were names that weren’t in English and names that couldn’t come up already with a Google search, but other than that this was the one that suddenly came to me as I was putting out my ideas.
Ranko: We also had the idea that Oketsu Climax should be called “OkeCli” for short (laughs) I think it’s good that BUTAOTOME doesn’t have neither 2 nor 4 kanjis, and the characters for otome are cute and round. By the way, other than OkeCli and Geroshabu, we also came up with Tekizaitekimasho (the right person in the right place).

Tekizaitekimasho, that’s also good (laughs).
Ranko: Indeed, we are the right person in the right place.

Surely, Ranko writes lyrics other than singing, Comp writes, composes and arranges other than playing bass, Paprika arranges songs other than playing piano, Ranko no Ane draws the jacket and the illustrations other than doing performances; all of you play various roles. Although this mini-album “Furubokko” was born as a result of all of you being the right person in the right place, personally I felt that the way of choosing words for the song titles and in every lyrics was very fresh and impressive. Usually, how do you make songs?
Comp: Actually, I took the way of making the melody first and then put suitable words on it. The melody has the priority to the end, so even if I think the words in my mind are good, sometimes they become different words if they don’t fit.

When I listened to the song “Sharekoube” in the album, with lyrics in a Japanese style, it reminded me of the phrase “There are bodies buried beneath the cherry trees!” from the novel “Beneath The Cherry Trees” by Motojirou Kajii. As you applied this to the melody, did you feel like this kind of content?
Comp: That’s right. The melody has a bit of Japanese style, and the main character I imagined was the same, so I think the lyrics fit it.

Ranko, do you have anything to keep in mind when singing?
Ranko: The songs made by Comp have lyrics that match with the melody, so they are really easy to sing. In my case, if I put too much of myself into a song, it doesn’t feel right to me. So I try to sing with an emphasis on the worldview of the song so that it comes alive.

The title track “Furubokko” has a MV, how the filming went?
Comp: It was very smooth. It was the beginning of February, and the location was a school. Ranko’s hair and make up stylist told us that when she took pictures at that place it was very cold and freezing, so we were so excited that we bought a bench coat and went to the location, but it was actually quite hot.
Ranko: (laughs) The staff people were very warm and welcoming. I had a lot of hand warmers on, but I took them off as soon as I got to the location.
Comp: I think there are people who get introduced to BUTAOTOME with this MV, so I would like to say that that kind of feeling in the performance scene is conveyed in our actual lives. Ranko no Ane is always like that, it’s not just this MV.

(laughs) Since it was mentioned, let’s talk a bit about your lives. You have been doing live since your formation, is it that fun?
Comp: Of course, it’s an exchange of energy. I should say that during our lives, the energy exchange between us and the people who came to see the show is irreplaceable. That’s our driving force.
Ranko: It’s fun to get the feeling of “being alive” at a live, and I feel like I’m living for that.

About your liveshows: has something changed, comparing your early days with now?
Comp: At first, we couldn’t afford things because our format wasn’t ready yet, but as we went on a nationwide tour and performed at big live houses, it became easier to interact with everyone at the venue. Also, I started to think that if we didn’t give it our all, people would feel that we weren’t good enough, so we started to work out.

You mean work out… the body?
Comp: Yes, for health. (laughs) Besides, Ranko is a human being, but we others are animals, so we sweat a lot in lives and breathing also becomes quite painful. So, we started to drink supplements for mountain climbing and miso soup.

Miso soup?
Comp: Exactly. There was a time, in a livehouse in Nagoya, when we were getting off the stage before the encore, and we animals were acting strange. Paprika suddenly started to scratch the wall. So, after finishing anyway the encore, we discovered it was heatstroke. Long ago, when mines were thriving, there were mine A and mine B. Many people died in mine A, but no one died in mine B. After checking up, the reason was that in mine B they took umeboshi and miso soup while digging. Knowing that we also started to drink miso soup.

I see. Health is important. Ranko, do you have anything to compare with the early days?
Ranko: At first I strongly wanted to have fun anyway, but now I hope all of you will enjoy first of all, and this makes me want to have fun.

As you play more lives, is there a lot to learn?
Comp: Yes, exactly. When we perform live, I feel that we’ve been taught “what is BUTAOTOME” from the people who came to see us.

Now, what’s popular among the members and so on.
Comp: Health has been always popular. In particular, Ranko no Ane and Paprika are so-called health maniacs. We usually stay up until late and we animals love drinking, so we feel to be careful about our health in order to live unhealthily. For example, Ranko’s sister puts herbs in a jar, strained with vinegar. When you are not motivated, you get very healthy if you drink that. Paprika is Paprika, and she’s been cultivating Caspian yogurt for almost 10 years. Ranko no Ane and Paprika share the health information they get with us.
Ranko: By the way, I also do boxing training.
Comp: Among the members, I’m the one who doesn’t do the best, but I train just in case (laughs).

(laughs) From now on, what do you think would happen to BUTAOTOME?
Comp: It would be great if BUTAOTOME could give even just a little help to those who don’t want to go to school tomorrow, don’t want to go to work, and are wondering how to live. I think it’s necessary for every person to have something like a reason to live, regardless of their age. That’s why I’m hoping to be able to do my best until the upcoming BUTAOTOME show and the upcoming BUTAOTOME CD comes out. First of all, I want people to know BUTAOTOME as many as possible.
Ranko: By catching the attention of more people, I think we’ll grow even more, and we’ll surely have more fun.

Text by Shinjiro Fujita (RSJ)